New mining advisory board ‘must break down GNWT silos’

Thor Lake
The Thor Lake site, 100 km south-east of Yellowknife. Photo: Avalon Rare Metals on Facebook.
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The territorial government’s culture must change before its new mining advisory board can have any effect, according to one northern mining consultant.

Industry minister David Ramsay announced the advisory board’s creation back in January, with the aim of helping the GNWT to promote northern mining. The board met for the first time last week.

“We need to ensure employment and business opportunities for our communities are realized from our resource-based economy while continuing to achieve high environmental and social standards,” said Ramsay in a statement earlier this month. “The advisory board will help us to do that.”

The board is formed purely of mining industry executives. They are:

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  • Brendan Bell of Dominion Diamonds Corporation
  • Darrel Beaulieu of DEMCo Limited Partnership
  • Rod Brown of Discovery Mining Services
  • Leni Keough of Olivut Resources
  • Don Bubar of Avalon Rare Metals
  • John Kearney of Canadian Zinc

Not all in the mining industry are convinced the new advisory board can have an immediate impact.

David Connelly works with TerraX, the company developing the Yellowknife City Gold Project on roughly 100 square kilometres of land north of the city.

He told Moose FM “regulatory confusion” is one of the biggest challenges in the Northwest Territories and, until that changes, the board’s influence will be limited.

“They’re certainly an esteemed group. They bring lots of experience, both nationally and internationally,” said Connelly. “Their limitation is they’re reporting to, and advising, only one department.

“The government here is operating in many silos and seems to have imported some negative attitudes toward mining. The culture needs to change and I think it would be challenging for an advisory board to change a culture.

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“Within each department there are silos, and still challenges to be worked out between departments, so the government can work as a whole – with a strategy toward supporting mining or not supporting mining – as opposed to the message sometimes being very, very confused now.”

Read: Mining is essential to the NWT, but is the conveyor belt broken?

In its opening meeting, the advisory board itself noted an “effective and efficient regulatory system” had to be pursued, alongside better infrastructure and more promotion of the territory’s mining potential.

The creation of a new Mineral Resources Act was highlighted as a priority. The NWT is the only Canadian jurisdiction without such an act.

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TerraX recently announced a combined investment of $4.5 million from two sources: Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd ($2.5 million) and the CMP investment fund ($2 million).

Geological and student teams are now operating on land controlled by the company, ranging from Ryan Lake to Banting Lake and Prosperous Lake.

TerraX is also working on the Vee Lake to Crestaurum Mine road, and wants residents to be careful in the area. Weekday road closures could take place.

The Yellowknife City Gold Project is estimated to be seven to 10 years away from yielding results.

“It’s 75 percent of the way up the pyramid but certainly it’s not a done thing,” said Connelly.

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