Mr. Speaker, it has been 25 years since Charles Fipke and his team discovered diamonds near Lac de Gras and brought the largest mineral rush in decades to our North.
This year, our diamond mines surpassed $50 billion in total mineral value produced in these 25 years.
The Government of the Northwest Territories mandate document highlights the fact that benefits from non-renewable resource production enable investment in many priority areas.
Over $11 billion has been spent to date on NWT businesses and service providers. Over 22,000 person-years of employment have been created by diamond extraction, half of which have been held by Aboriginal residents of our Territory.
Through our Socio-Economic Agreements with industry, we have seen over $100 million contributed to our communities through scholarships, benefit participation agreements, and donations; each bringing new opportunities to our citizens.
Last, but most certainly not least, Federal, Territorial, and Aboriginal governments have all realized fiscal gains from resource royalties or taxation on mining activities which are enabling us to improve the lives of NWT residents through our investments in the health and well-being of our communities and the expansion of our Territory’s economic horizons.
It is through the responsible and equitable approach demanded by our government and taken by industry that our mineral industry has built the trust and support of the vast majority of our citizens. We see this in a recent third-party poll completed by Abacus Data, which shows 85 percent of NWT residents support the mining sector. A tribute to the quality of corporate citizenship that we have realized from our word class partners in this industry.
With this in mind, we as a government must continue to facilitate a strong mining and exploration industry in the best interests of our citizens.
Mr. Speaker, our Government has made a commitment in its Mandate to evolve the legislative, regulatory and policy system to advance the territorial vision of land and resource management, guided by the Land Use and Sustainability Framework. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is beginning work to advance the development of a made-in-the-NWT Mineral Resources Act, a key post-devolution commitment identified by this Government to deliver on the priorities of our Assembly.
New responsive, jurisdiction-specific regulation will provide for more effective oversight and enforcement of the NWT’s mining regulations, create more certainty for the mining industry and bring the NWT in line with Canada’s provinces and the Yukon. Our aim is to increase our competitiveness in the marketplace and create legislation and regulation which is sensitive to Northern needs with respect to protection of land, wildlife, and water.
More immediately, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment continues to implement the Mineral Development Strategy, another one of our Government’s Mandate commitments.
We are providing support to grassroots mining and exploration with successful strategic investment through our Mining Incentive Program. Our investment in this program last year resulted in a 3.8 to 1 return on investment, with each dollar invested resulting in a $3.80 investment in exploration activity.
Once again this year, we have seen the demand for this program outstrip its $400,000 budget and we have every reason to believe that this year’s results will provide similar success.
We also look forward, this summer, to the opening of our new geological materials storage facility, which will house core samples for industry use. This facility will offer a practical method for supporting greater exploration in our territory and create cost savings for industry.
We have introduced a two-year Assessment Work Incentive to encourage more exploration activities in the NWT.
Under the Unlocking Our Potential brand, we have increased marketing and promotional efforts to attract more private sector investment in mineral exploration and development; and through the proposed Resources and Energy Development Information campaign, or REDI, we are preparing to offer increased information and awareness about resource development to NWT residents.
Mr. Speaker, this is Mining Week in the NWT, and we have much to celebrate. I would encourage all members of this House to seek out and participate in events taking place around town, and to take some time to acknowledge the opportunities mining has afforded our Territory historically, and particularly the last quarter century of our Territory’s diamond history.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.