Wally Schumann: Ongoing Support for Mining as Our Economic Foundation

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories’ economy is built on mining and exploration.  Today our mining sector is the largest provider of high paying jobs and the main driver of the territorial economy.

We have committed, in our mandate, to supporting mineral exploration and the NWT mining sector with actions and investments identified in the NWT Mineral Development Strategy. 

Our goal is to realize all the benefits of our mineral resources to support ongoing prosperity for NWT residents and communities.

At the appropriate time this afternoon, I will be tabling an overview of our five-year implementation plan for this Strategy.

I want to highlight for Members some of the work that has been done this year to put our Strategy into action and to make good on the commitments in the GNWT’s mandate to close the skills gap in the mining sector, implement the Mining Incentive Program, develop a Mineral Resources Act and support Aboriginal governments seeking to build capacity from mining-related activities.

In September, two “Introduction to Prospecting” courses were hosted in Yellowknife by the Mine Training Society, TerraX Minerals and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.  This course supports the development of an educated, trained and readily available northern workforce and fosters awareness of the importance of the mining industry. This is the third year that this course has been delivered.  

Our Mineral Incentive Program was over-subscribed, again this year.  In the first two years, our annual investment of $400 thousand has resulted in an additional $3.36 million in exploration spending in the NWT by companies and prospectors. 

This year, seven corporate and five prospector applicants received incentives to advance exploration in our Territory.

We have begun work to create a new Act that will modernize our government’s approach to mining by streamlining our regulatory environment and bring it in line with our northern priorities and realities.  This will be a long process and we are looking forward to working with Members of this House, the intergovernmental council, Aboriginal governments, industry, NGOs and the public to take this next evolutionary step for our territory’s economy.

We are also working with stakeholders and Aboriginal governments to advance community participation in mining through regional mineral development strategies.  The Dehcho First Nation has been a leader in this, hosting a workshop this summer in Fort Simpson with the Canada Northern Development Agency and the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines.  The Inuvialuit, Sahtu, and Tłîchô regions are also interested in developing regional strategies and we will continue to move these initiatives forward.

ITI’s Customer Services and Community Relations division continues to support communities and industry interested in participating in our resource sector. In addition to their role as pathfinders and the first point of contact within GNWT, this unit works to promote projects that will enhance the socio-economic well-being of the NWT.

In April this included delivering the Mining Matters curriculum in four schools in the Sahtu. It was an opportunity to promote discussion about mining in the NWT, staying in school and the opportunities for careers in the mining industry.  This unit is now preparing to deliver the same programming to schools in Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Fort Liard this week.   

Mr. Speaker, we are also celebrating the opening of the Gahcho Kué diamond mine.  In its projected 12-year life, this mine will create hundreds of jobs and an additional $6 billion in investment into our economy.

While on site for its grand opening, I was struck by this project’s cutting-edge facilities, occupational health and safety procedures, and commitment to environmental-protection.  It was a reminder of how far mining has come in our territory, and the certainty with which we can continue to realize its benefits into the future.

In November, Mr. Speaker, the NWT's mining industry will gather in Yellowknife for the 44th Annual Geoscience Forum.  It has been 25 years since diamonds were discovered in the NWT and this year's event will include a special commemoration of our diamond industry, and the unprecedented growth it has supported.

We are working with our stakeholders to introduce a series of NWT Mining Awards to recognize the many individuals and organizations that have contributed to our industry and continue to push it forward.  These awards will be presented for the first time at a gala on November 17th and I invite all Members of this Assembly and the public to join us in this celebration of the mining industry which is so foundational to our territory.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.