business pages

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Subscriber pages
buttonspacer News Desk
buttonspacer Columnists
buttonspacer Editorial
buttonspacer Readers comment
buttonspacer Tenders

Demo pages
Here's a sample of what only subscribers see

Subscribe now
Subscribe to both hardcopy or internet editions of NNSL publications

Our print and online advertising information, including contact detail.

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Mineral exploration to increase in Nunavut, slide in NWT
We are missing a huge opportunity: chamber of mines

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services
Published Friday, March 11, 2011

NWT/NUNAVUT - A preliminary estimate from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) shows the Northwest Territories lagging behind Nunavut in terms of mineral exploration in 2011.

NNSL photo/graphic

Spending on mineral exploration will decline in the NWT but experience a healthy surge in Nunavut, according to preliminary estimates released by Natural Resources Canada last week. - photo courtesy of Seabridge Gold

The forecast predicts $83 million in spending on exploration activities in the NWT this year, down from $99 million in 2010.

Meanwhile, exploration spending in Nunavut is expected to increase to $322 million from $280 million over the same time period.

The downturn in the Western Arctic has the executive director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines worried.

"NWT residents and leaders should be concerned with the languishing exploration here," said Tom Hoefer. "We are missing a huge opportunity to strengthen our mining future by allowing investment to pass us by."

Unfortunately, Hoefer said the odds are currently stacked against the territory.

"The regulatory process in the NWT is complex, there are unsettled land claims and the NWT has more protected areas than anywhere else in Canada."

On Thursday, the legislative assembly tabled the revised Wildlife Act which proposes to transform a large swath of land near the Ekati diamond mine into a conservation area

Hoefer said the territory needs to do a better job of settling land claims and balancing environmental stewardship with economic development things he said Nunavut is doing well.

"One of the differences is that Nunavut is a single land claim jurisdiction while the NWT has seven land claims. So they don't have the same level of board complexity."

Ann Marie Tout, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Hoefer's sentiments.

"It's really disappointing that our exploration goes down while the other territories are going up," said Tout.

She said it's important for the NWT to simplify the regulatory process in order to attract more mineral exploration in the territory.

"We can't say we are open for business and then make the process this hard," said Tout. "We've been lobbying for improvements to the regulatory process to simplify it and add more clarity. We need to increase confidence about mineral exploration in the NWT."

Peter Vician, deputy minister of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, had a comparatively sunnier outlook.

"Early predictions tend to be lower than what the actual is," said Vician.

As he pointed out, NRCan's preliminary estimate for NWT spending in 2010 was $66 million, but as the year went by, spending ultimately came in at $99 million.

The NWT has also come a long way since the height of the recession, which caused spending in the NWT to plummet to $44 million in 2009, said Vician.

"I think that industry is slowly rebounding since the downturn period and we feel positive that the measures that we're advancing are going to bring more confidence to the industry for the future," he said.

Vician cited the federal government's ongoing streamlining of the NWT's regulatory process as well as a recent push for devolution by the GNWT as reasons for optimism.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.