It's Mining Week in the NWT! ”The Good of Mining” is a series highlighting the important relationship that NWT residents have with the NWT’s mining sector.
We often talk about the benefits mines bring to a territory. From haul truck drivers and welders, to engineers and environmental scientists — mines are huge operations requiring numerous products and services – and large, diverse workforces.
But the benefits of mining begin to flow long before mines even open – in exploration activity and geoscience research spurred by the search for precious stones and minerals.
The search for new minerals across our 1.3 million square kilometres of land is a big undertaking.
Around $80 million is expected to be spent on exploration in the NWT this year. In past years, that number has jumped as high as $150-200 million.
The money is spent on helicopters, equipment, camps and supplies — you name it, if exploration companies need it, they buy it - and NWT residents can usually supply it. And, just like the mines that they precede, exploration crews and logistics companies also hire locally – not just geologists and geophysicists, but expediters, line cutters, stakers, cooks, technicians, camp attendants, ramp hands cleaners and labourers.
More than just contributing to procurement and employment, mineral exploration also adds value to the NWT’s base of geological records, research and geoscience.
Mineral exploration is founded in the data accumulated from field notes and maps, air photos, drill logs, assay results, core samples, geological records, photographs and reports. And when that work is done, the Government of the Northwest Territories has access to it.
The Northwest Territories Geological Survey archives millions of dollars of exploration and mining information submitted from industry exploration projects and mines.
Reports filed with the government in confidence, become public knowledge in due course. The archived data forms the foundation for new mineral exploration ideas and discoveries. As the knowledge and information becomes public, it is used to inform decisions that extend far beyond the mining sector to include economic development, conservation, climate change and land use across the NWT.
In a territory half the size of Europe with the population of a mid-sized Canadian town, the realization of this information without cost to taxpayers is invaluable.