business pages

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Subscriber pages
buttonspacer News Desk
buttonspacer Columnists
buttonspacer Editorial
buttonspacer Readers comment
buttonspacer Tenders

Demo pages
Here's a sample of what only subscribers see

Subscribe now
Subscribe to both hardcopy or internet editions of NNSL publications

Our print and online advertising information, including contact detail.

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Industry slams new Wildlife Act
Chamber of Mines executive director says new act should be ammended

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 4, 2011


The NWT has a hard enough time attracting investors to its mineral exploration industry, and the GNWT's proposed new Wildlife Act, as currently written, would not help, says the executive director for the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

NNSL photo/graphic

Staff with Fortune Minerals tour the site of the company's proposed base metals mine near Whati. The president of Fortune Minerals, Robin Goad, said the proposed new Wildlife Act would hinder further mineral development in the NWT. - photo courtesy of Fortune Minerals

On Jan. 7, the chamber submitted a letter outlining its concerns about the new act to J. Michael Miltenberger, minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

The chamber charged that the draft legislation does not adequately balance environmental concerns with economic considerations and would result in a further erosion of the NWT's land base.

"...the draft legislation has raised serious concerns within the exploration and mining community," read the letter. "Although we are mindful of the resources that your officials have devoted in support of its development, we believe the proposed Act should not be introduced in the legislative assembly without further amendment."

The chamber is especially concerned about the proposed transformation of a large swath of land near BHP Billiton's Ekati diamond mine into a conservation area, said Tom Hoefer, executive director of the chamber of mines.

"Just by what's been discovered so far, you know it's the richest area in the Northwest Territories for potentially diamond bearing deposits," said Hoefer. "It's something you also want to protect. There's been the notion in the past of having protection of non-renewable resource potential, too, and if we want to be able to move forward with a strong economy, we need to find lots more opportunities to do both."

Ensuring the NWT remains open for business has become an increasingly urgent matter as the NWT loses more and more ground to other jurisdictions like Nunavut and the Yukon, which are both attracting more mineral exploration than the NWT, said Hoefer.

"I've been hearing stories about people not coming back again. Or people tremendously worried about getting land use permits renewed, and the question marks that are hovering over that."

The number of prospecting permits issued this year in the NWT is up compared to last year but still low compared to Nunavut, added Hoefer. (See Fact File.)

"Here we are, we've got so many parks in the Northwest Territories, we've got conservation lands, we've got protected areas strategies, and really all we're doing this is continuously sterilizing more and more land from development," said Robin Goad, president and CEO of Fortune Minerals, which is developing the NICO base metals project near Whati.

"I would argue, what are we protecting this from?," said Goad. "Mining is not having an adverse impact on wildlife. So what else you could protect it from?"

Bill Ross, chairperson of the Environmental Monitoring Agency which is charged with tracking BHP Billiton's environmental monitoring practices at Ekati said there is evidence that Ekati has had an impact on caribou.

"There are several environmental issues at Ekati that are important," said Ross. "For example, we have consistently, for many years, encouraged BHP Billiton to look more at the cumulative effects on the Bathurst caribou herd that it contributes to ... We know that there are clear studies showing caribou tend to avoid the mines, and because Ekati is big and has been there for the longest, it's clear that they avoid Ekati. What are the consequences of that?"

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.