Building roads to resources a priority, says NWT premier – by Trish Saywell (Northern Miner – August 13, 2014)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Mining is the largest industrial sector in the Northwest Territories (NWT), and building transportation and other important infrastructure is the key to unlocking its potential, NWT Premier Bob McLeod said at a symposium in Toronto on Aug. 6.

“We have long understood that stranded resources represent significant lost opportunity for economic development,” McLeod said in prepared remarks at the infrastructure summit of Canada’s premiers hosted by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. “Without dependable, all-weather connections, the huge base metal and mineral potential in the Northwest Territories will remain locked in place.”

On the sidelines of the conference the premier told The Northern Miner that he expects seven new mines will be built in the NWT between now and 2020, but emphasized infrastructure must be built to help support development in the north.

In addition to diamonds and base and precious metals, the Northwest Territories has conventional and non-conventional oil and gas potential in the Mackenzie Valley and Beaufort Delta, he noted.

McLeod believes that one of the most important steps his government must take is to build a $2-billion highway system through the Mackenzie Valley linking the rest of Canada to Tuktoyaktuk, a small community on the Arctic Ocean.

In January, the premier and Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended a groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of construction on the northernmost part of the all-weather highway linking Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.

McLeod estimates that this 140 km segment of road alone will contribute $135 million to the Northwest Territories’ growth domestic product, allowing goods to be shipped year-round by road and help support oil and gas exploration and development activities in the Beaufort Sea.

The federal government is footing $200 million of the $300-million bill, with the government of the Northwest Territories coming up with the rest.

The Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk part of the highway will be built over four straight winters.

In the meantime, McLeod and his government is pushing ahead with plans for the southern segment of the highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells — a region that has been a petroleum producer for more than 80 years, and is poised to play a greater role in supplying quality crude oil to southern markets.

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