Miners are one of the biggest private employers in the territory, but existing projects are close to the end of their lives and exploration interest has declined
Residents of the resource-rich Northwest Territories began consulting on a new Mineral Resource Act on Monday, a made-in-the-North piece of legislation aimed at making the territory more attractive for mining investment.
As one of the largest private employers in the territory, mining is an important part of the economy and makes up one quarter of the region’s GDP. But existing projects are moving closer to the end of their lives and interest from exploration companies dropped, and then stagnated, years ago.
Part of the reason is that mining laws and unsettled land claims have created uncertainty for investors. The government hopes to “redefine” its relationship with the industry through a modern piece of legislation that clearly explains how mining is supposed to be done in the territory. Residents now have the opportunity to help shape that legislation, which could affect their economy and environment for generations to come.
“It’s time we leave behind the one-size-fits-all framework that we inherited from the [federal government] and build a better future… with people who understand the circumstances of where we live,” Nick Leeson, Manager of Legislative and Legal Affairs for the Government of the Northwest Territories, said.
This is the first time the Northwest Territories has attempted to write it’s own mining legislation — the federal government controlled public lands in the territory until 2014 — and it’s taking the opportunity to reconsider everything from how mines are taxed to how the land is rehabilitated.