Nunavut and Yukon will experience robust economic growth this year driven in large part by mining, according to projections from a business group.

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The Bellekeno silver mine in central Yukon, operated by Alexco Resource Corp., started commercial production in January. (CBC)

Nunavut is forecast for a 15.7 per cent rise in GDP in 2011, the Conference Board of Canada’s Territorial Oulook says. Yukon’s economy will expand 5.9 per cent, the report predicts.

The picture in the Northwest Territories is the opposite: A GDP drop of 2.3 per cent is presaged, as construction is expected to ease substantially and the mining sector creeps along.

Nunavut’s increase in GDP will stem from development at Newmont Mining Corp.’s gold mine in Hope Bay, higher output at the Meadowbank gold mine in Baker Lake and spending on mineral exploration, the Conference Board says.

In Yukon, the board says the mining sector will grow by 135 per cent over the next two years, as three mines start extracting metals and money continues to pour into mineral exploration. 

The mining boom in the two territories has seen opposition from some First Nations, conservation groups municipal governments and health experts concerned about pollution and the industry’s environmental toll.

Arctic regions around the world appear on the cusp of a resource boom as countries including Russia, Denmark and Norway rush to exploit opportunities presented by melting sea ice and unprecedented accessibility.