Wally Schumann: Unlocking our Potential at Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup and Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Delivered on March 1, 2018

Mr. Speaker, nearly $1 billion of our economy comes from mining and exploration.  It is the primary generator of wealth in the Northwest Territories and the reason why our government has made the commitment in its mandate to support this sector.

Mining provides good-paying jobs to nearly 2000 NWT residents, who spend their paycheques with local businesses and drive opportunities for entrepreneurship and economic diversification.  In large part, it is the revenues realized from mining that allows our government to invest in the programs and services that are bettering the lives of NWT residents today.

Mr. Speaker, these benefits, which our territory has enjoyed for decades, will not last without a revitalizing of mineral exploration in the NWT.  To grow and even maintain our economy, we must ensure a cycle of exploration and development so that as one mine closes a second and third mine are entering into production. 

In only six years, one of our largest mining projects will begin to wind down, and with few new projects on the horizon, we need to restore and enhance the investment climate that existed in our region prior to the downturn in commodity markets. 

In January, our government took the opportunity afforded to us by the AME Roundup in Vancouver to advance the message that we need to grow the territorial economy, especially in communities and regions, so more people can have good middle class jobs and incomes. We showcased to investors what we are calling the NWT Difference.

While many jurisdictions have immense mineral potential, Mr. Speaker, few can boast the holistic, inclusive approach we take to managing and encouraging responsible mineral exploration and development in our territory.

NWT’s diamond mines have provided over 25,000 person-years of employment to NWT residents since 1996.  They have spent over $13 billion on goods and services from NWT businesses. More so, mining has created ways to foster local industry, build a skilled workforce and empower communities. It has enabled a host of NWT residents to gain valuable and transferrable education and experience across a multitude of sectors, sciences and trades. With the growth of our world-class diamond mines has come an explosion in local businesses providing the expertise and skills to service them.

Indigenous governments have invested in and grown a multitude of NWT-based companies; some of which have now outgrown their territorial beginnings and are expanding to service projects around the circumpolar Arctic and into Alberta.   Mining companies can be proud of the legacies they’re contributing to when they invest in our territory.  That is the NWT difference that can set us apart for investors. It is one that we were able to demonstrate in the united front provided by our government, Members of this Legislative Assembly, and our Indigenous partners at the AME Roundup.

Mr. Speaker, this weekend we will build on our work in Vancouver at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada tradeshow in Toronto.    Like the AME Roundup, it is a key event for the mining industry; and one at which prospective developers, explorers, and especially investors and the financial sector, will gather to foster new relationships, build on existing ones, and seek out new projects and partnerships.

Once again, the Premier and I will have a full slate of meetings and networking opportunities to promote and talk about our territory’s vast mineral potential and the NWT Difference.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot ignore the need for exploration and development in our territory. Our government’s role is to foster a strong economy. That means aggressively and strategically marketing our territory’s assets in a crowded global industry. We need to encourage new exploration to assure ourselves of a strong economic future. We need to make sure the NWT is front and center to responsible investors, developers and explorers.

We need to demonstrate to industry that when responsible development companies come to our territory, they have the confidence, knowing we are interested in moving world class projects forward at all levels.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.