Caitlin Cleveland: Mineral Resources Act Regulations – Preparing for Implementation

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — June 10, 2024

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Mr. Speaker, developing regulations for the Mineral Resources Act is one of the key commitments from the Government of the Northwest Territories to support responsible resource development. This Act represents a new chapter for our mining sector, setting the stage for modernization and shared prosperity for residents, indigenous governments, and our industry partners.

The Act and future regulation will increase opportunities for exploration by providing more time to explore claims before transitioning to leases and making it easier to collect
high-quality geoscience data. This, in turn, will attract investment and support the
highly-anticipated move to an online map staking system.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is working hard, in collaboration with Indigenous governments and stakeholders, to ensure that the regulations needed to implement the Mineral Resources Act are completed within the 20th Legislative Assembly.
A comprehensive Policy Intentions Document was completed at the end of 2023.
This document captures the collaborative intent and rationale of the regulations that are being developed collaboratively and is guiding the legal drafting process. Consensus has been reached with indigenous governments and organizations participating in the regulation-development process for almost all of the proposed policy concepts.
The department is expecting an initial draft of the regulations toward the end of this year and in the first quarter of 2025, publicly sharing the proposed regulations for final engagement before they are circulated for Section 35 consultation.

Mr. Speaker, relationships will be foundational to the implementation of the Mineral Resources Act. Understanding this, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is working to ensure stakeholders are aware of and understand proposed changes and innovations, as well as the timelines for their implementation.

Department officials meet regularly with representatives of the NWT’s mining industry to address specific subjects or concerns and to ensure that all parties feel heard and see the full value that these regulations will bring.

In May, the department met with NWT regulators to provide updates and advance collaborative discussions regarding the integration of the Mineral Resources Act into the broader regulatory framework. Officials also traveled to Łutselk’e to meet with Elders, leaders, and residents to answer their questions and build understanding among Indigenous governments, stakeholders, and regulatory partners.

Mr. Speaker, the regulations that will bring the Mineral Resources Act into force are advancing under a protocol set out in the Intergovernmental Agreement on Lands and Resources Management, a first for our territory. This work includes restructuring the department’s Mineral and Petroleum Resources Branch for efficiency and supporting the new legislation with necessary software changes for greater transparency and accessibility.

An example of this leading industry approach is the proposed modernization of the
socio-economic and impact-benefit agreements signed with diamond mines. 
These agreements have positioned the NWT as a leader in the social and
environmentally-conscious management of mining in Canada. Under the Mineral Resources Act, future benefit agreements can take various flexible forms, including participation, partnership, and equity agreements, all in the spirit of implementing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The time is right for these changes. There is a desire to chart a new way of doing business in the territory, bringing further clarity to industry and investors. This work is crucial as the territory moves towards a new era of mining amid a growing demand for critical minerals.
I look forward to providing further updates on work to develop these regulations as we strive to take our territory’s mining industry to new heights.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.