Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino was in Nanisivik, Nunavut, this week to break ground on the federal government's Arctic naval facility.

The base will serve as a refuelling station for the Navy and other government ships. 

In a news release, the government said the station will protect Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

"As the activity in the Arctic by countries such as Russia has increased, the Canadian Armed Forces play a vital role in demonstrating a visible Canadian presence, helping other government agencies respond to challenges that may arise, and protecting the potentially resource-rich region."

Delays

Crews are refurbishing a dock and fuel tank farm that were built in 1973 to serve the Nanisivik lead-zinc mine, which closed in 2002. The project was originally announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007 and was initially supposed to open in 2015.

The original plan for Nanisivik was to refurbish the dock, build office space and year-round accommodations for 15 people, as well as upgrades to a nearby — now abandoned — airstrip.

But the Defense Department scaled back the project after cost estimates ballooned to $258 million. Nansivik will now only operate in the summer and the budget for the project was reduced to $116 million.

In June, 2014, the federal government awarded a $55.8-million construction project to Almiq Contracting of Iqaluit. The government said the project will create between 50 and 60 jobs. The station is forecast to open in 2018.