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The Nunavut Regional Adaptation Collaborative

The Nunavut Regional Adaptation Collaborative (RAC) program is a territory-wide initiative, developed by the Government of Nunavut (GN) as part of Natural Resources Canada’s Regional Adaptation Collaborative program.  The objective of the Nunavut RAC is to advance climate change adaptation with respect to issues of particular concern to the territory, such as changes in permafrost and the related impacts of these changes on the mining sector and on the infrastructure upon which this sector depends.

It is evident that the Canadian Arctic is experiencing significant changes in climate. These changes are affecting most aspects of the northern environment, economy and culture.

In Nunavut, mining is a cornerstone of the regional economy. It contributes to northern development through the creation of jobs, supporting economic activities, and promotion of educational opportunities.

Climate change, particularly related to permafrost thawing, has become a significant issue for infrastructure design and maintenance in Nunavut. Expected changes in permafrost conditions have created an increased challenge for designing and engineering new structures such as ports, roads, railways and tailing management facilities.

The goals of the Nunavut RAC are to:

  • improve Nunavut’s resilience to a changing climate through collaborative activities that examine infrastructure to support mining activities, particularly managing the risks that climate change presents to tailings and waste containment facilities, roads and port infrastructure; and to
  • improve ability to advance adaptation decision-making in these areas. 

These goals are being pursued through the following projects:

Vulnerability Assessment of Nunavut’s Mining Sector to Climate Change

This project involves assessing the vulnerability of permafrost thawing to tailings facilities and port infrastructure. The project will address the magnitude of the projected climate changes and focus on the climate sensitivity and adaptive capacity of the mining sector to build and maintain key infrastructure, as well as suggest priorities for future action. 

Good Environmental Practices for Northern Mining and Necessary Infrastructure

This project involves consultations with the mining industry, regulators and other decision-makers to document current northern mining practices. This will determine what constitutes "good" environmental practices for northern mining - from exploration through to closure and reclamation.


This project also focused on two specifc pieces of infrasturcture and completed an in-depth analysis of both tailings and wharves and potential impacts from climate change.

Engineering challenges for Tailings Management Facilities and Associated Infrastruture with regards to Climate Change in Nunavut (2012) 

Engineering challenges for Coastal Infrastructure / Docks with regards to Climate Change in Nunavut (2012)


Project Partners

×        Government of Nunavut - Department of Economic Development & Transportation

×        Government of Nunavut - Department of Environment

×        Natural Resources Canada

×        Nunavut Research Institute

×        Nunavut Impact Review Board

×        Nunavut Chamber of Mines

×        Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated

×        Hamlet of Cambridge Bay

×        Newmont Mining

×        Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation

×        Areva


Project Contact

Linda Ham

Manager, Minerals

Economic Development and Transportation
Government of Nunavut


Iqaluit, NU
Telephone: (867) 975-7892