The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Mining Explorers 2014: Revitalizing the future of mining

Devolution and development strategies pave way for success in the NWT

The mining industry has been a pillar of the Northwest Territories' economy for more than 80 years. A strategic approach to manage resources in the territory is creating a new investment climate and opportunities for responsible resource development. In addition to being the largest private sector contributor to the NWT economy, the mining industry is also the largest private sector employer.

As new mining and exploration projects emerge, it is essential to keep environmental sustainability and social responsibility top of mind to ensure this industry continues to be an economic pillar long into the future.

A major milestone was reached this year when Devolution came into effect on April 1, 2014. The Government of the Northwest Territories gained responsibility for managing public land, water, and resources in the NWT. Decisions will now be made by a responsive government that can focus the needs of a single territory and its investors - resulting in faster response times to industry questions. This is key for the NWT to unlock its vast mineral and resource potential in a way that is in line with northern priorities.

The NWT currently has four producing mines, five advanced exploration projects, and more projects in the early, yet promising, stages of development. There is a wealth of mineral resources in the territory, including diamonds, gold, cobalt, bismuth, tungsten and rare earths, which have the capability to turn the NWT into an economic powerhouse.

The four operating mines in the NWT are: Ekati Diamond Mine, Diavik Diamond Mine, Snap Lake Diamond Mine, and the Cantung Tungsten Mine. In 2013, $1.67 billion worth of minerals and diamonds were produced by the NWT. The territory is the world's third largest producer of diamonds, by value.

Developing a solid framework in which to grow mineral and exploration development was essential. The Mineral Development Strategy, released in 2013, was the first step to building this framework and revitalizing the NWT mining industry. It focuses on five key areas: creating a competitive edge, establishing a new regulatory environment for the NWT, enhancing Aboriginal engagement and capacity, promoting sustainability, and enriching workforce development and public awareness.

A number of MDS recommendations are being advanced, including the NWT's first-ever Mining Incentive Program. This contribution program is tailored to the unique NWT operating environment, with the goal of maximizing return on investment through innovative and effective exploration.

The incentive program was launched in June 2014 and provides funds to eligible prospectors and mining exploration companies that are already engaged in mining exploration projects or proposing new projects in the NWT. It aims to offset some of the financial risk associated with grassroots mineral exploration. The NWT will now be able to compete better with other Canadian jurisdictions offering similar incentives that attract mineral exploration expenditures. The MIP celebrated a successful launch and was oversubscribed in its inaugural year.

The GNWT, poised for success in a post-devolution climate, is attracting new investments, developing long term plans and frameworks and supporting new, sustainable mineral exploration. The NWT is on track to create a legacy of positive benefits and a bright future across the territory for generations to come.


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