Ministers' Statements and Speeches

December 14, 2011 - Mr. Speaker, the mining, oil and gas sectors are literally the bedrock of the Northwest Territories economy.  These industries rely on modern, accessible geoscience information to make investment and land use decisions.  The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment partners with the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to deliver geoscience programs for the Northwest Territories.

This partnership – known as the Northwest Territories Geoscience Office or NTGO –provides industry, government, Aboriginal organizations and many other stakeholders with up-to-date, easily accessible geoscience information.  This information is key to encouraging investment in minerals and petroleum exploration.

Mr. Speaker, in November of this year Minister Leona Aglukkaq from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency announced an additional 3.275 million in funding to support further geoscience research in the NWT.  Combined with an in-kind contribution from the Government of the Northwest Territories of $1.1 million, as well as contributions from the private sector, this investment totals over $5 million dollars over three years. Reliable geoscience data is vital to encourage exploration in areas with high resource potential, which in turn contributes to the sustainability of the NWT mining industry.

Significant discoveries often stimulate additional private sector investment. It is estimated that for every dollar invested in government-funded geosciences in the NWT, five dollars are in turn spent by mineral exploration companies.  This year, the total NTGO investment in geoscience is $2.5 million.

This should result in approximately $12.5 million of investment by mineral and petroleum exploration companies in the NWT through activities like prospecting, diamond drilling, and seismic surveys.  In addition to the investment dollars, these companies further contribute to our economy by employing local residents and purchasing goods and services from local NWT businesses.

I recently attended the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum and saw first-hand the hard work and dedication of the Geoscience Office scientists.  Their research ranks with some of the very best in the world.

The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and NTGO co-host the Geoscience Forum, which this year had almost 800 delegates – the biggest conference in the North.  Not only is this the platform for experts to share geosciences research and best practices in mineral exploration, it is also a huge boon to our economy.  Delegates stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and fly with our airlines.

The NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and the staff at the NTGO are to be commended for a job well done – this year and every year.

At the appropriate time today I will be tabling the five-year NTGO Strategic Plan.  A key focus of the Strategic Plan is working with communities to support initiatives including developing local energy sources, as well as supporting local business opportunities using carving stone, limestone and silica sand.

Mr. Speaker, the NTGO is also often called upon to provide unbiased scientific advice on complex or contentious issues.  Their role is to provide independent geoscience information that is essential to support governments and communities in making informed decisions for the planning, construction and maintenance of critical northern infrastructure.

An understanding of minerals and petroleum potential is essential when considering the location of transportation infrastructure.  Industry, Tourism and Investment will also be working closely with other GNWT departments and northern stakeholders to better understand permafrost issues and other infrastructure issues relating to climate change in the north.

Mr. Speaker, investing in geoscience research today supports future economic development tomorrow by attracting investment to our territory and creating spin-off exploration projects that will provide employment and business opportunities for NWT residents.

The work performed at the NWT Geoscience Office is vital to growing mineral exploration in our territory.  Through the responsible development of natural resources in the NWT, we will continue to work towards our Government’s goal of creating a diversified economy that provides all communities and regions with opportunities that benefit our residents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.