Tungsten, Northwest Territories

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Tungsten, NWT

The townsite of Tungsten (shown as Cantung on some maps) is located at Cantung Mine in the Northwest Territories. It is accessible from Watson Lake, Yukon. Tungsten was built in 1961 and the tungsten mine went into operation in 1962 as a large open pit mine in the Mackenzie Mountains. It originally consisted of several small bungalow houses. Total population of Tungsten during the 1960s was approximately 120 persons, including about 27 families. In 1968 families were housed in 28 units (single and duplex housing).

Because of extremely good wages and benefits, turnover rates for the entire operation were quite low. Families benefited from the K-8 Grade school, and later a K-9 system. During the summer months, because of the open pit operation, manpower and townsite population grew to 160. In the mid-1970s, the townsite expanded to include a trailer court, three condominiums, bunkhouse trailers, and in 1982, a modern recreation complex. An 80-man bunkhouse was added in 1983. The town and mine were serviced by an all-weather road to Watson Lake and a 3700’ × 100’ (1 128 × 30.5 m) airstrip.

In 1979 the estimated population had reached 506, 200 of whom were employees. By the fall of 1982, there were 450 residents and about 100 children were enrolled at Tungsten School. The community also had a public telephone exchange operated by Northwestel: area code 403, prefix 777. By 1986, it was estimated that only 280 people were living at Tungsten. The Cantung Mine closed in May 1986, and the townsite was closed. A year or two later, the telephone exchange, with only a handful of active lines on obsolescent electromechanical equipment, was shut down.

Although the mine reopened in 2002, the nature of the mine had changed so that there was no longer an operating townsite with families. The mine closed again in 2003. Following an investment by the Kaska Dena Council in the Yukon in December 2004 the mine was reopened in 2005. The original bungalow houses remain to this day, along with the school, and stand as a monument to a time when town life was busy with local residents.

The community has the distinction of being the only place in the Northwest Territories that is on Pacific Time rather than Mountain Time.


Climate data for Tungsten
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 3.5
Average high °C (°F) −17.2
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a −11.0
n/a n/a
Average low °C (°F) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a −19.8
Record low °C (°F) −51.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 41.8
n/a n/a 61.8
n/a 50.0
Source: 1961-1990 Environment Canada [1]

See also


  1. ^ Environment CanadaCanadian Climate Normals 1961–1990. Retrieved 22 June 2011.

External links

  • North American Tungsten

Coordinates: 61°57′25″N 128°12′10″W / 61.95694°N 128.20278°W / 61.95694; -128.20278 (Tungsten)

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