Northwest Territories Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann discusses the need for infrastructure to advance mining projects in the territory.
Northwest Territories Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann spoke to the Investing News Network at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference about the need for infrastructure to advance mining and exploration projects in the territory.
Schumann said the territory has a “severe infrastructure deficit,” but has mineral potential that “rivals the Ring of Fire,” with a number of junior mining firms trying to advance their projects.
“We need a significant investment from the federal government to help assist in building what we call the Slave Geological Province access road,” which is expected to cost C$1 billion. Schumann said the Mackenzie Valley Highway would require C$700 million, and expanding the hydro potential at the Taltson River project would take between C$700,000 and C$1 billion.
The Northwest Territories features the Yellowknife Greenstone Belt and also hosts “the three largest diamond mines in Canada.” Those are Ekati, which is operated by Dominion Diamond; Diavik, operated by Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO); and Gahcho Kué, a joint venture between De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds (TSX:MPVD,NASDAQ:MPVD).
“We’re the third-largest producers of diamonds in the world. But the thing about those is you can bring them out in a suitcase every month. When you start moving the hard-rock material, that makes it a challenge when you have a winter road system that we have,” Schumann said.
Watch the interview above for more insight from Schumann on the future of mining in the region. You can also click here to view our full PDAC 2018 playlist on YouTube.
INN: I heard there are some issues in the Northwest Territories in regards to infrastructure and how it’s dealing with mining?
WS: Well, we have a severe infrastructure deficit. We have mineral potential that I say rivals the Ring of Fire. But the trouble with that is to access it, we need the federal government to partner with us to be able to exploit those products. And we need significant investment from the federal government to help assist in building the what we call the Slave Geological Province access road.
INN: And there was a budget that came out recently. Can you talk a little bit about that and what you would like to have seen and what you did not see as well?
WS: Well in the federal budget, we did not see the trades and corridor funding but from our understanding talking to the federal government, that’s going to be announced later in the year. The C$2 billion fund that is there for transportation corridors in Canada is I say is underfunded for the country. I believe that we could probably spend the C$2 billion ourselves just in our territory and I’ve asked other ministers around the table to help support Minister Garneau in trying to get more money to have to put into infrastructure investments. So out of that came the C$2 billion fund that we have and the infrastructure bank as it rolls.
INN: When you’re talking infrastructure, are we talking roads or airports or what does that entail exactly?
WS: The biggest needs for us. We have 33 communities and we have a number of airports there. They continue to operate as per the regulations but we need investment in highways and energy corridors and hydro. That is our biggest need that we need to be able to exploit our mineral potential in the NWT.
INN: How much would make a difference?
WS: Well just the Slave Geological Province road alone is a billion dollars and we have the Mackenzie Valley Highway ask which C$700 million. And if we want to be able to expand their hydro potential at the Taltson River project that can be anywhere up between C$700,000 and a billion dollars depending on what we wanted to do.
INN: Can you tell us about some of the things that you’re hearing from some of the mining companies that are interested in some of the minerals and how that relates to infrastructure?
WS: Well we have a number of juniors that are operating up there right now trying to bring their projects to operation. One of them is operating in the Tlicho region where we do have conditional funding for a highway for C$200 million through the P3 Canada. That region is Greenstone belt around a number types of minerals, ones set will service to green energy going forward but there’s also gold in that region. So that road is going to extremely help with the potential of that region. But we have a number of other projects particularly in the slave geological province that are going to need significant investment as we say for infrastructure to be able to get their commodities out to the marketplace. Right now, we have three largest diamond mines in Canada. We’re the third largest producers of diamonds in the world. But the thing about those is you can bring them out in a suitcase every month. But when you start moving the hard rock material, that makes it a challenge when you have a winter road system that we have.
INN: Great. I’m pretty much out of questions. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
WS: No I think– you know, it’s great to be at PDAC to get down here to meet with industry and investors and government officials to make sure people understand the needs that we need to promote the Northwest Territories that are around our mineral potential. And one of the things I continue to tell people is this is not only going to benefit people in Northwest Territories, our potential is significant and it will benefit all Canadians as a whole. Thank you.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Shaw, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.