The Operational History of Mines in the Northwest Territories, Canada


The Canadian north was settled because of its mineral resources. When the Canadian Dominion Government first purchased the arctic from the British Crown in 1870, the Northwest Territories was seen as a vast stretch of cold and inhospitable land and was practically ignored by the authorities at the time.


First minerals were reported in the 16th century by British explorer Martin Frobisher, but his gold ores turned out to be types of pyrite, or better known as ‘fool’s gold’. The original inhabitants of the north, the natives, once mined copper ores along the Arctic Coast for use as tools, implements of war, and objects of trade. This copper was the target of fur trader and explorer Samuel Hearne, who in the 18th century sought out the legendary mountains of the mineral along the Coppermine River. Those copper deposits proved vastly exaggerated and to this day no mine has entered production in this area despite periodic copper strikes and aerial staking rushes.


The Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898 was the turning point in mineral exploration in the north...


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