Doing business in Nunavut

Business Opportunities

Nunavut has an emerging economy that has the potential to grow dramatically over the short and mid-term in a number of key economic areas, including resource development, construction, fisheries, art and tourism. 

Nunavut is open for business, and the Government supports responsible economic development that results in meaning benefits for the people of Nunavut When you invest in Nunavut not only does it drive economic activity in the territory, but it also drives economic activity and job creation for those who do not reside in Nunavut.

Below you will find a number of resources to assist you in your decision to invest, or do business in Nunavut:

Natural Resources

The potential of Nunavut’s commodity market is immense and this sector is experiencing the majority of the territory’s economic growth. Nunavut has some of the richest potential in terms of high-grade metals and oil and gas in the country.

Since 1999 mineral exploration investment has increased five-fold and Nunavut is now the northern leader in exploration investment. As a result of investor interest we now have our first operating diamond mine and two gold projects in the permitting stage. We are also seeing growing interest in our known deposits of uranium, silver, nickel, copper, iron ore and coloured gemstones.

The territorial Gross Domestic Product is projected to advance 6.8% with several projects under construction.

Nunvaut’s Mineral Exploration and Mining Strategy


All three Arctic regions are focusing dialogue on responsible petroleum exploration. 

In Nunavut, conservative estimates have shown that the territory holds a third of Canada’s total petroleum resource endowment. Nunavut’s undiscovered conventional resources range from 25 to 267 billion barrels of oil, and 285 to 1228 trillion cubic feet of gas. This means we have up to 15 per cent of Canada’s total petroleum reserves.


Since 2011, Nunavut experienced rapid expansion in construction that was directly driven by mining projects. The Conference Board of Canada projected a 34.5% growth in the construction industry for 2014.

Guide to Building Infrastructure in the Arctic


There has been significant growth in Nunavut’s fisheries industry. What was once a $1 million venture has now grown into a $123 million industry. Nunavut received an increase to its turbot quota, equaling an additional $10.5 million in revenue annually.

Nunavut is investing additional efforts to develop inshore fishing for turbot and arctic char. The market demand for char is exceeding the current commercial harvest.  Nunavut has access to approximately 78% of the available turbot quota in Nunavut’s adjacent waters and continues to lobby Canada to increase this access. 

The Government of Canada has also committed to building marine infrastructure in Iqaluit and a small craft harbor in Pond Inlet, which will surely benefit the fisheries sector. 

Arts and Crafts

The arts sector generates $33 million per year in revenue. It is estimated that three thousand Nunavut residents earn income from the sale of their art. While there has been a slight downturn in the sale of traditional Inuit art, there is an increase in the number of younger artists creating more contemporary art, while exploring newer mediums including film, digital arts, and music.

A Strategy for Growth in Nunavut’s Arts and Crafts Sector


The tourism sector is comprised of both traditional tourism and eco-tourism, and is a celebration of everything that makes Nunavut unique – the beauty and diversity of our lands, the depth of our history and culture, and the warmness of our people.

Currently, extensive consultations are taking place to review the Nunavut Tourism Act. The industry is small but growing.

Tunngasaiji: A Tourism Strategy for Nunavummiut

Business Certainty and Regulatory Processes

Although there are opportunities in a number of sectors, the majority of economic development in Nunavut’s near future will take place in the mining, fisheries and construction sectors. Responsible development in these industries is dependent upon certainty created through regulatory processes, the development of strategic infrastructure, and increasing the skills and capacity of the Nunavummuit.

Currently, there are four main bodies, known as Institutions of Public Government (IPG), that participate in regulatory processes that affect these industries:

  • Nunavut Impact Review Board – an environmental assessment agency that has mandated responsibilities for assessing the potential impacts of proposed projects before any required permits, licenses and approvals are granted.
  • Nunavut Planning Commission – is responsible for the development, implementation and monitoring of land use plans that guide and direct resource use and development in the Nunavut Settlement Area.
  • Nunavut Wildlife Management Board – is mandated to combine the knowledge and understanding of wildlife managers, users, and the public to make decisions concerning the management of wildlife in Nunavut and acts as the main regulator of access to wildlife in the Nunavut Settlement Area.
  • Nunavut Water Board – has the responsibilities and powers over the use, management and regulation of inland water in Nunavut and its objectives are to provide for the conservation and utilization of waters in Nunavut, with the exception of national parks.