Canadian Mint crafts coin from Nunavut gold before territory's 20-year anniversary

The Royal Canadian Mint has created a coin made entirely of gold mined in Nunavut for the territory's 20th anniversary next year.

Inuk artist Andrew Qappik designed the coin

Lorne Whitmore holds the new Symbols of the North coin made by the Royal Canadian Mint with entirely Nunavut-mined gold. (Submitted by Alison Crawford)

The Royal Canadian Mint has created a coin made entirely of gold mined in Nunavut for the territory's 20th anniversary next year.

The collectable coin, released on Tuesday, celebrates Arctic wildlife with a depiction of a walrus, ptarmigan, polar bear, bowhead whale and narwhal framed by an outline of a maple leaf.

Inuk artist Andrew Qappik, from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, crafted the design.

This is not the first time Qappik has worked with the mint. Last year he designed a series of collectable quarters under the theme of predators and prey.

"We used this artist because I guess the work was similar enough that we had a good sense of his style with this subject matter," said Lorne Whitmore, a manager with the mint.  

Qappik had been selected for the original run via a competitive process, where his drawings were reviewed.

The Royal Canadian Mint created a coin made entirely of gold from Nunavut for the territory's 20th anniversary next year. (Submitted by the Royal Canadian Mint )

Whitmore said the plan for an Arctic wildlife coin has been in the works for a while, but the decision to use Nunavut gold was made in late winter this year.

The gold comes from two gold mines in Nunavut: Agnico Eagle's Meadowbank mine and TMAC Resources' Hope Bay mine.

By combining gold mined by Nunavut-based employees with a Canadian theme and artist, Whitmore says the mint is fulfilling its mandate.

"We think in a really special way, this coin does help to celebrate the beauty of Canada and the skills of Canadians," he said.

Nunavut produces seven per cent of Canada's gold — around 11,000 kilograms in 2017, according to Natural Resources Canada.

In addition to minting money, the mint refines gold for several Canadian companies.

Gold doré, a semi-refined gold, is shipped to the mint, where it further refines the gold to the 99.99 per cent purity required to make its coins.

This gives the mint the ability to separate out gold from Nunavut for the batch of 1,500 coins, which is on sale at the mint's online store and Canada Post locations.

The coins are going to be part of a series called Symbols of the North, the second of which will be released during Nunavut's 20th anniversary year.

The series will feature iconic representations of Canada's North.

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