Mining in the Northwest Territories: 17 Facts

Mining in the Northwest Territories - facts and statistics cover

Diavik Diamond Mine, NWT - Rio Tinto

Did you know that diamond mining accounted for more than one-fifth of the Northwest Territories' economy in 2020?! With facts like that, it is clear that the mining sector is not only a massive part of the Canadian territory’s economy, but also the identity of many Northwesterners.

And with its massive landmass, is it any surprise that the Northwest Territories are home to much more than just diamonds? Minerals and metals found within the NWT’s breathtaking landscapes include diamonds, gold, silver, platinum, zinc, copper, lead, coal, nickel, iron, tungsten, uranium, cobalt, lithium, bismuth, neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium and more [1]!

With an abundance of natural resources, it quickly becomes clear that the NWT has massive potential for growth through future exploration and can contribute to supplying some of the critical minerals and metals of the world needs.

With four actively producing commercial mines in the NWT: Ekati, Diavik, Gahcho Kué, Nechalacho, they provide critical mining products to the global market while also providing prosperity to local communities.

Learn more about just how crucial these mining operations are with these 17 facts on mining in the Northwest Territories today! Also see:

Mining in NWT Facts - diamond mining has added $23 billion to the Northwest Territories economy since 1999

Northwest Territories Mining Facts

#1 - The NWT currently has three producing diamond mines – Ekati, Diavik, and Gahcho Kué [2]

#2 - The Nechalacho mining project in the NWT started production in 2021; it was the first to produce rare earth minerals in Canada, and the second in North America [3]

#3 - In 2019, the NWT’s mining sector accounted for 3% of the world's diamond production by value [4]

#4 - A 552-carat yellow diamond discovered at the Diavik diamond mine in 2015 is the largest found to date in North America and within the top 30 largest in the world [5]

#5 - The first diamond-bearing kimberlite in Canada was discovered in the Lac de Gras area of the NWT in 1991, leading to the development of Canada’s first diamond mine - the Ekati Diamond Mine [6]

#6 - In 2019, approximately 1 in 3 employees were Indigenous within the NWT’s mining sector [7]

#7 - There are 42 agreements signed by exploration and mining companies and Indigenous communities or governments as of 2021 within the NWT. These agreements foster relationships that allow for Indigenous businesses to capitalize on projects happening in or near their communities [8]

#8 - Since 1996, NWT diamond mines have spent $16 billion on procurement from NWT businesses, including nearly $7.5 billion from Indigenous-owned businesses [9]

Mining in NWT Facts - 1 in 3 mining workers in the Northwest Territories identify as Indigenous

#9 - Diamond mining accounted for more than one-fifth of the NWT’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 [10]

#10 - Since 1999, diamond mining contributed approximately $23 billion to the NWT’s economy [11]

#11 - In 2020, diamond mining contributed $814.1 million to the NWT’s GDP [11]

#12 - Since 1996, the NWT’s diamond mining sector provided more than 31,200 person-years of employment for the territory’s residents [11]

#13 - As of 2017, there were 3,380 jobs within the NWT’s mining industry [12]

#14 - The NWT’s mining sector produced more than $1.5 billion worth of minerals in 2021 [13]

#15 - From 2014 to 2022, $11 billion of diamonds have been mined in the NWT, generating approximately $250 million in government royalties. [9]

#16 - Since 2015, the territorial government of the NWT has collected an average of $90 million annually in revenues from diamond mines [9]

#17 - The territorial government of the NWT also collects an average of $53 million a year in various taxes from the mining sector [9]

Mining in NWT Facts - 3380 jobs are supported by the northwest territories mining sector in 2017

Mining is Critical for NWT Communities

The Northwest Territories’ mining sector is integral to its economy. The presence of mining companies also benefits regional communities through policies such as impact benefit agreements that allow for infrastructure investments, local training, and environmental and wildlife monitoring programs to name a few examples.

Northwest Territories diamonds are world-renowned for their quality, colour, texture and commitment to world-leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. It helps Canada remain a leading source of conflict-free, fair trade diamonds for the many applications it is used in worldwide such as smartphones, cancer treatments, drill bits, jewellery, and so much more!

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1 - Government of Northwest Territories - Questions and Answers. Date accessed: November 2022 (

2 - Government of Northwest Territories - Questions and Answers. Date accessed: November 2022 (

3 - Vital Metals - Nechalacho Project. Date accessed: November 2022 (,the%20second%20in%20North%20America)

4 - Government of Northwest Territories - Diamonds: Investment Opportunities. Date accessed: November 2022 (

5 - The Canadian Press - Large fancy vivid yellow diamond discovered in N.W.T. Date accessed: November 2022 (,23%2C%202022)

6 - Government of Canada - Canada's First Diamond Mine. Date accessed: November 2022 (

7 - Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics - 2019 NWT Survey of Mining Employees. Date accessed: November 2022 (

8 - NRCAN - Minerals and the economy. Date accessed: November 2022 (

9 - Government of Northwest Territories - Review of Resource Royalties in the NWT. Date accessed: November 2022 (

10 - Resources for Development Consulting - An Economic Analysis of the GNWT’s Approach to the Mining Regime Fiscal Review. Date accessed: November 2022 (

11 - Government of Northwest Territories - Socio-Economic Agreement Report. Date accessed: November 2022 (

12 - NRCAN - Minerals Sector Employment.  Date accessed: November 2022 (

13 - NRCAN - Minerals and the economy. Date accessed: November 2022 (