Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

At this link is a report that is a pleasure to read. The report is called Pathways to Mineral Development—A Report of the Stakeholder Engagement Panel for the NWT Mineral Development Strategy. Here from the Executive Summary is why the report was prepared:

  • Given the limited life expectancy of the operating mines, and the fact that the projects currently in the advanced stages of exploration or development would employ less than half of the current mining workforce, revitalizing grassroots exploration must be a priority.
  • The principal deterrents to investment in exploration and development are uncertainty surrounding the regulatory regime, gaps in infrastructure (particularly power and roads), land access restrictions, and unsettled land claims.
  • The principal barrier to the NWT reaping greater benefits from mineral development is the limited pool of skilled workers. This is exacerbated by community wellness issues and the pressures inherent in the work rotation schedule. As a result of the skilled labor shortage, 50 percent of the mining workforce commutes from outside of the NWT. This results in significant lost revenue in terms of federal transfers under the Territorial Formula Financing Agreement, as well as reduced tax revenues and ongoing salary leakage to other jurisdictions.
  • Northerners value their environment. Key indicators suggest that the operating mines are not having a deleterious effect on the physical environment, which can be attributed to a combination of modern mining practices and a rigorous regulatory regime.
  • Devolution represents an historic opportunity for the GNWT to make immediate improvements to the management and marketing of the NWT’s mineral resources, and in so doing, re-brand the NWT as an excellent place to do business. As the responsible resource manager following devolution, the GNWT will also be in a much stronger position to forge strategic partnerships with Aboriginal governments to collaboratively manage and market the mineral resources of the NWT.

And here is the framework for what they recommend:

  • Creating a Competitive Edge: Key themes include enhanced public geoscience, incentives to promote exploration, aggressive marketing of the potential of the NWT as a place to explore and mine, and investments in infrastructure.
  • Creating a New NWT Regulatory Environment: Although the foundational elements of the regulatory regime are largely a federal responsibility, there are a number of steps that the GNWT can take to improve client service and to increase certainty.
  • Aboriginal Engagement and Community Capacity Building: Enhanced community capacity and the development of “engagement roadmaps” and would contribute to more Pathways to Mineral Development Report of the Stakeholders Engagement effective consultation as well as timely permitting and environmental assessment processes.
  • Sustainability: Key recommendations include accelerated land use planning, review of the Protected Areas Strategy, implementation of a legally-enforceable progressive reclamation policy, increasing opportunities for NWT businesses, and establishment of a Heritage Fund to ensure a lasting legacy.
  • Workforce Development and Public Awareness: Priorities include securing ongoing funding for established training programs, doubling-down on efforts to increase high school graduation rates, increasing awareness of career opportunities in mining, and improving public understanding of the modern mining industry.

The ninety-page report goes into detail on each of these points. Well worth while reading. The only depressing thing is the limited life of the mines currently in operation in the NWT.