TORONTO — Northern leaders are cheering a federal funding announcement for a long-awaited all-weather road into the heart of Canada’s mineral-rich Arctic. “This is a significant first step,” said Wally Schumann, minister of industry and infrastructure in the Northwest Territories.
The $5.1 million outlined at a mining conference in Toronto is a small fraction of the total cost that is expected to exceed $1 billion.
But Schumann said the money will pay for planning and development of the first part of the road, which could be under construction within five years. “It’s one of the richest regions in North America,” he said.
Building a road into the trackless tundra of the N.W.T. has been discussed since John Diefenbaker’s Conservative government in the early 1960s. The area is known to hold huge reserves of minerals from base metals to gold to diamonds.
A territorial study has suggested there are $45 billion worth of mineral resources in what is known as the Slave Geologic Province. But without a dependable way to get in and out of the region — climate change is eroding the usefulness of ice roads — development has stalled.
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