Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment Robert McLeod

Premier Bob McLeod: Celebrating Diamond Pioneers

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Premier Bob McLeod introduced an evening chock full of recognition for those who have built the diamond industry, and recognized in particular the pioneers who discovered diamonds near Lac de Gras. 

The remarks came as part of the Diamond Gala, a Government of the Northwest Territories and NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines co-sponsored event concluding the 2016 Yellowknife Geoscience Forum. 

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Good evening everyone.

I’m pleased to be back at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum for the 44th edition.

Thank you to the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines and the Northwest Territories Geological Survey for their work in organizing this event each year. Your efforts over the years have locked it into the calendars of mineral professionals across the country.

We are here this evening to celebrate the Northwest Territories’ culture of excellence in geoscience and mineral exploration at the foundation of our territorial economy.

In particular, we’re celebrating the individuals, institutions, and organizations which have built, sustained, and innovated in our now quarter-century old diamond industry.  

Later on, we will recognize the Aboriginal governments in our territory, who have been instrumental in passing on the benefits of mineral development to all people in our territory, and the mines and their operators, who have innovated at every step to advance responsible mineral development and contribute to a strong, well-trained, well-paid workforce in the NWT.

Over my 30 years in public service to this territory, I’ve seen few moments as defining to our economy as that discovery at Lac de Gras 25 years ago.  

Before the find, we were primarily a gold-producer reaching the twilight of our production days. While there was a lot of exploration, there were limited immediate prospects.

That all changed when Chuck Fipke and Stewart Blusson struck kimberlite at Point Lake, setting off the largest North American staking rush in a generation.  

It was a moment made possible and fueled by the commitment of the geoscientists who braved unforgiving tundra for a find anything but guaranteed; by the constitution of financiers who poured millions into the idea of North American diamonds; and by the entrepreneurial spirit of a few which came to benefit thousands.

And tonight, the Northwest Territories says thank you.

We are going to be presenting keys to the individuals credited with bringing diamonds to the North, representative of their role in unlocking the potential of our mining industry, and putting us on the world stage.

It is essential to recognize the importance of early-stage exploration. Without people like the diamond pioneers we are honouring tonight, there are no mines, fewer high-paying jobs, and less investment in our communities.

This goes to the heart of our government’s economic approach. We understand the need to encourage more entrepreneurs, explorers, and financiers to invest in the future of our Northern mining industry.

Our government’s mandate includes investment in geoscience initiatives to provide the baseline scientific knowledge needed to support exploration. I’m particularly excited about the core sample housing facility opening soon, and the Chan Lake aeromagnetic analysis undertaken this past year.

It also includes a full suite of programs designed to encourage investment through modernized legislation and regulation, support for junior mining companies, and incentives to defray costs for those operating in this time of transition in the markets.

I would like to pass the mic off so we can recognize the pioneers, but before I do so I’ll leave you all with this.

On behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories and the citizens we serve, thank you to all those who turned their gaze North and dedicated themselves to unearthing the kimberlite which built our diamond industry.

You were the catalyst for the billions in economic activity for local businesses, millions in community investment, and thousands of high-paying jobs diamonds have provided our territory thus far.

We’re doing everything we can to build a future where responsible explorers and developers like you will thrive.

Thank you.