David Ramsay – Remarks at 42nd Annual Geoscience Forum NWT Night

Déclarations et discours de ministres

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Good evening, everyone.

It is great to be here at the 42nd annual Geoscience Forum and to see how much this event has grown over the years. First of all, I would like to thank the talented Lee Mandeville for his great performance tonight.  I would also like to recognize the Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and staff of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment for organizing this important event each year and for the invitation to speak here tonight.

First of all, I would like to start by congratulating the award winners who were honoured at today’s opening ceremony.

Mr. Gary Vivian, the president of Aurora Geosciences received the 2014 Canadian Professional Geoscientist Award. He is the first resident North of the 60th parallel to receive this award, which recognizes the achievements of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the development, practice, and public recognition of professional geoscience in Canada. Congratulations Mr. Vivian on your success and well-deserved award. 

The 2014 NAPEG Professional Award of Merit in Geoscience was awarded to Mr. Bob Gannicott. This award is given to an individual who exemplifies and promotes excellence in engineering and geoscience in the NWT and Nunavut. With over 40 years’ experience in the mining industry, this award is very well-deserved. I know we are all wishing Mr. Gannicott well.

In addition, I would like to recognize the recipients of the Geoscientists Canada Fellowships. These included Mr. David Watson and Mr. Peter Thompson, and honourary recipients: Mr. Peter Bengts, Mr. Terry Brookes, Mr. Lloyd Henderson and Mr. Grenville Thomas. The fellowships recognize the contributions and service to the profession of geoscience.

Please join me in once again congratulating all of the award winners.

I am sure we all agree this is an exciting time for minerals and petroleum development in Canada’s north and this evening I would like to talk to you about innovation.

Innovation is the catalyst for growth.  It means applying better solutions to meet new requirements or existing market needs. As the Government of the NWT works to improve and advance the minerals and petroleum industries in the territory, we are looking at innovative solutions, like those that will highlight a majority of the meetings and presentations over the course of this Geoscience Forum.

In the Northwest Territories, we are innovative. Our landscape and climate often challenge us to think outside the box. There have been two major developments for this industry in recent weeks: increased funding for geoscience research in the NWT and the establishment of a Geological Materials Storage Library.

In a territory that sees temperatures often below minus 30 Celsius and occasionally lower, we took what we knew and found a way to learn from it. I’m talking about permafrost.  Apparently, it has more uses than serving as the year-round community freezer in Tuktoyaktuk.

Our NWT Geoscience Office has developed a collaborative regional study to determine the detailed glacial history and permafrost conditions of the central Slave Geological Province. This study is unprecedented in size and scope and will establish the NWT as a world leader in understanding surficial materials and permafrost characteristics in a large, economically important region. Ultimately, we want to stimulate the next round of diamond and metals exploration in the Slave Province, and to collect permafrost and geotechnical data to inform future infrastructure development and regulatory decision making.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) recently announced financial support for this two year study through its Strategic Initiatives in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program.

Funding from CanNor, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and Industry and University partners, totals $5.3 million towards this geoscience research.

As I shared with many of you this morning, as part of the devolution process, the Government of the NWT also plans to create a Geological Materials Storage Facility.

This facility will house the NWT’s vast collection of thousands of core boxes, tens of thousands of geological samples, and thousands of maps and reports with valuable information.  This collection forms a reference library that has been obtained over decades and represents millions of dollars of industry and government expenditures.  The NWT drill core collection includes the best and most extensive collection of kimberlite materials anywhere in the world.

Core storage and sampling facilities will enhance the competitive edge of the NWT as a preferred jurisdiction for mining and exploration.  Re-use of existing core by industry is a proven economic development driver. By accessing existing samples, companies will be able to save on drilling costs and gain confidence in their projects.  This information is in demand globally as companies and investors search for new opportunities and will help lead them to our doorstep.

The data and research stemming from both of these major projects will be available to governments, academics, prospectors and companies and enhance awareness of geological potential across the Northwest Territories. No one knows better than the people here tonight that a good geoscience knowledge base represents a significant competitive advantage for jurisdictions that want to grow.

It is through the innovation of the people attending this forum and working in the NWT minerals and petroleum industry, that we will see true advancement, economic benefits and new opportunities for our residents. There is immense potential in these industries and with all of us working toward common goals, I am confident that we will realize this potential.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the Geoscience Forum.