by Deborah Archibald
With only seven business weeks to go before Transfer Date, the Mineral Exploration Roundup conference in Vancouver, which hosted 6,000 international participants, proved to be an opportune forum to promote Devolution’s positive implications for mineral exploration and development in the territory, and to engage with affected industry stakeholders. To take advantage of the opportunity – the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) was in full-force with a trade show booth, hosting an Information Session and a Northwest Territories (NWT) Open House.
The Devolution Implementation team, along with representatives from the Minerals, Oil and Gas division within the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) hosted a side-by-side booth with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) over four days. This was handy as it allowed both governments to work together by collaboratively answering delegates’ questions.
We had a lot of traffic at the booth (didn’t hurt that we were raffling beaver felt mittens!) and everyone was pleased to hear about how Devolution will streamline processes and allow northerners to make decisions about how resources are used and protected in the territory. The show served as a great opportunity to promote resource development in the NWT to potential investors!
As an extension of the side-by-side booth, the GNWT and AANDC co-hosted a Devolution information session with presentations co-delivered by senior level management from both governments. Presentations included: the Devolution Agreement and its implementation, mineral rights, land administration, water and environment, amendments to the NWT Mining Regulations and regulatory reform. The session was very well-attended, and industry communicated their appreciation for our proactivity – in that we came to where we knew they would be to deliver this information, and make ourselves available to answer any questions that they have. Each presentation was followed by a Q&A session – which put presenters on the hot seat!
Since our last information session at the 2013 Geoscience Forum in Yellowknife, we were able to provide updates about early hires made for key senior management positions and the 100 per cent job acceptance rate of regional AANDC staff in transferring programs to the GNWT. Industry was very happy to hear that they would be working with knowledgeable and familiar people!
Directly following the information session, we co-hosted an NWT Open house with the Chamber of Mines to celebrate Devolution and the first-ever NWT Mineral Development Strategy. Again, this was very well attended and the Premier delivered remarks to a large group, which represented industry, Aboriginal governments and dignitaries from other Canadian and international governments. Brooks Clement, NWT Chamber of Mines President also spoke, and on behalf of industry, offered his congratulations to the GNWT for assuming decision-making authority over our natural resources.
ITI Minister David Ramsay, Environment and Natural Resources Minister, Michael Miltenberger and MLA Robert Bouchard were also in attendance to promote how Devolution, coupled with the Mineral Development Strategy, outlines the steps needed to be taken to ensure that the NWT is a jurisdiction of choice for exploration and mining investment.
The strong presence of the GNWT at the conference, including the Premier, the Devolution workshop and the evening reception were all illustrations that the GNWT is serious about making the NWT a destination of choice for mining and exploration investment that will create economic and social benefits for all residents for decades to come.