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Nunavut continues to lead in growth
Almost half the territory's gross domestic output from Meadowbank gold mine production; increase of 7.7 per cent the largest economic growth in Canada

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 7, 2012

The territory of Nunavut once again led all Canadian provinces and territories in economic growth last year, in 2011 posting a 7.7-per-cent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP), according to Statistics Canada.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Meadowbank gold mine, located 70 km north of Baker Lake, pictured just before it began commercial production in 2010. Increased production at Nunavut's only operating mine in 2011 contributed to the territory's 7.7 per cent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP). - photo courtesy of Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd.

Much of the growth in the territory's gross production, to $1.280 billion in 2011, from $1.188 billion (in 2002 dollars) in 2010, came from Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd.'s Meadowbank gold mine, the territory's only operating mine, which saw its first full year of production in 2011.

Gold and silver production from Meadowbank each increased by about $100 million in 2011, according to Natural Resources Canada data, which recorded preliminary 2011 gold production of about $412 million, up from about $316 million in 2010, and silver production of about $2 million in 2011, compared to just under $1 million in 2010.

Mineral exploration expenditures also contributed to economic growth in the territory in 2011, which saw a record $502 million in mineral exploration spending last year, according to preliminary Natural Resources Canada data.

"Natural resources are clearly the competitive advantage for the Northern economies," stated

Pamela Strand, president of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, in response to the latest GDP figures. "And when the mining industry is healthy, so are the transportation, construction and the service and supply sectors, which also rely on the health of our minerals industry."

According to Natural Resources, mineral exploration spending in the NWT -- the largest economy of the three territories and the only jurisdiction in Canada to see economic decline in 2011 -- has never surpassed the $500 million barrier, but David Ramsay, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, is optimistic about the economic outlook for the NWT.

"The future is very bright for us here in the Northwest Territories," Ramsay told News/North, in response to Conference Board of Canada forecasts of an economic surge for the NWT in 2012 and 2013.

According to the board's most recent territorial outlook report, a ramp-up in diamond production is expected to contribute to a 5.9 per cent increase in real GDP growth this year.

"The Northwest Territories did contract in 2011 because of weaker diamond production, and that will rebound," said Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director of the conference board. "And also we had weaker construction activity -- that is also expected to come back and rebound in 2012.

"So both industries that pulled down GDP in 2011 will perform better in 2012, 2013."

Real GDP in the Northwest Territories fell 5.5 per cent in 2011, according to preliminary Statistics Canada findings, to $2.871 billion in 2011 from $3.038 billion in 2010.

Nationally, GDP rose by 2.6 per cent between 2010 and 2011, to $1.267 billion in 2011 from $1.234 billion in 2010.

Nunavut also recorded the largest increase of all the provinces and territories in 2010, with an 11 per cent increase in real GDP over 2009.

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