Geoscience can keep NWT alive, minister tells Moose FM as forum begins

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Yellowknife, NWT – More money for geoscience research could be the key to securing the Northwest Territories’ financial future, industry minister David Ramsay has told Moose FM.

The 42nd annual Yellowknife Geoscience Forum began on Tuesday, a week after the federal government announced almost $7 million in funding for new geoscience research in the North.

“Making those investments right now is key to our future success and our economy,” said Ramsay ahead of the forum’s first day.

“We’d be in dire circumstances if we didn’t have our producing mines in the territory today so, going forward, we need to make sure we find some more.

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“We have seen a renewed interest in exploration – almost a miniature staking rush in the Slave geological province – but we’re still a ways off of where we were seven, eight, nine years ago.

“We need to get back that investment we’ve lost and put some renewed focus on mining.”

The area surrounding the current Ekati (pictured) and Diavik diamond mines is expected to provide the focal point for future research and exploration, in the hope of uncovering the right conditions for more mines.

With the territory’s two biggest current mines predicted to end their useful lives within the next decade, the race is on to replace them as pillars of the territory’s economy – particularly as the NWT’s population has stagnated for a decade and its economic performance has been poor since 2009.

Ramsay says that is one driving force behind the need for investment in geoscience and, subsequently, a return on that investment in the form of mines.

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“A lot of this information is going to be very valuable in identifying new mines. I always like to say, when you’re looking for elephants, you go where elephants have been found. Ekati and Diavik are elephants in the diamond-mining world,” Ramsay told Moose FM.

“We hope we’re going to be able to find more mines to sustain that industry for the foreseeable future.

“With some of the other information we have on opportunities for diamond mining in southern part of the territory, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that at some point in time the Northwest Territories will be the world’s leading producer of diamonds by value.”

In a welcoming address to geoscience forum delegates at Yellowknife’s Capitol Theatre, Ramsay announced the territorial government’s plan to build a geological materials storage facility in the city, to house the territory’s geological collections – samples, maps, reports and so on – built up over previous decades.

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Earlier, Dettah Chief Eddie Sangris called for cooperation between the industry and Aboriginal peoples.

“As leaders, we walk a fine line between economy and environment,” said Sangris.

“We want to leave something for future generations. We just don’t want everything to be depleted – like our caribou.

“We need to work together [instead of] butting heads against the industry and the government.

“Hopefully, we can better understand each other, how to work with each other, and make the North more prosperous through partnership.”

CJCD Moose FM News

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