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Geoscience office to lead research
Government, industry and academia team up for 11 projects across Nunavut

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 24, 2014

The five geologists with the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office are preparing to lead $7 million in research over the next two years, following an announcement from the federal government earlier this month.

NNSL photo/graphic

George Kuksuk, Nunavut's Minister of Economic Development and Transportation, and Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, meet to announce funding for 11 projects being led by the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office on Nov. 14. - photo courtesy of Craig Welsh

On Nov. 14, Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, announced the agency has made a commitment of more than $3.3 million for 11 geoscience projects in Nunavut over the next two years through its Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development program. It is designed to promote long-term economic growth.

The Government of Nunavut and its partners are investing more than $3.7 million in the same research projects, in which the Iqaluit-based geoscience office will team up with several Canadian universities and Nunavut Arctic College.

The projects, some of which involves office-based research and others which will require extensive field work, are designed to enhance geological knowledge of the territory to support infrastructure development and assist the mining sector.

Research activities include sediment geochemistry studies, resource evaluation, permafrost analysis and geological mapping.

"Geological mapping helps generate economic development in the North. This information could aid in responsible resource, business and skills development for Nunavut through expansion of the mineral and energy sector," said George Kuksuk, Nunavut's Minister of Economic Development and Transportation. "As a rule of thumb, $1 spent on public geoscience encourages $5 to $10 of new industry exploration. This exploration leads directly to new mines and employment and development."

The 11 research projects have the potential to help develop an estimated 10,000 jobs down the line, according to Aglukaaq.

"There are over 30 mining projects in the queue at various stages - these initiatives would not be possible without geoscience work," she said. "Geoscience research helps companies pinpoint new discoveries, assisting the resource development sector to create new jobs, economic opportunities and prosperity for Nunavummiut."

Several of the projects could involve Nunavummiut being hired as field assistants, camp cooks and other roles, according to Holly Steenkamp, regional mapping geoscientist with the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office.

"At this time, I don't have exact numbers but as an office, we do try to incorporate participation from local businesses and local community members in whatever way we can for all of these projects," she said.

A project to complete targeted bedrock mapping on recently-discovered mineral showings on southern Baffin Island is likely to involve a large field-based camp near Clearwater Fjord, which has never been geologically mapped.

Although Steenkamp cannot speculate about potential jobs related to the study, she said similar projects in the past have involved jobs such as camp manager, wildlife monitors and logistical support.

Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office projects being funded by CanNor

  • Targeted bedrock mapping on recently-discovered mineral showings in southern Baffin Island.
  • Targeted bedrock mapping in the Elu Basin in the western Arctic.
  • Survey of lake sediment geochemistry north of Iqaluit on southern Baffin Island (2015).
  • Office-based studies in Baffin Bay, including Devon Island and northern Baffin Island, to identify the distribution, position and age of petroleum source rocks.
  • Industrial limestone studies on Southampton Island to identify potential quarry locations.
  • Mapping and resource evaluation of potential carving stone deposits on Hall Peninsula and proven deposits at Opingivik (Cumberland Sound), Mary River, and Melville Peninsula.
  • Satellite data project to illustrate the cost-benefit of using advanced remote sensing sensors to assist with targeting exploration work in the territory.
  • Mapping of the seabed of Frobisher Bay in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut's Nuliajuk research vessel and Natural Resources Canada to aid infrastructure development.
  • Permafrost-infrastructure analysis of terrain hazards and permafrost sensitivity to warming.
  • Compilation of all existing data related to mineral potential, permafrost qualities and the potential for local aggregate sources suitable for road infrastructure in the corridor extending from the Manitoba border to Rankin Inlet along the Western Hudson Bay coast.
  • Dissemination of geoscience findings to update Nunavut's mineral showings database, including extracting and compiling new mineral showings from more than 200 industry assessment reports valued at approximately $1 billion.

Source: Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

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