NWT Mineral Exploration and Mining Overview 2018Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 08:40 to 08:59 Theatre 1
Turbulent political times at the national level with trade negotiations, rising interest rate and newly implemented tariffs have made it difficult to gain an impression of the mood of the mineral industry in the NWT. However, one of the most reliable indicators of exploration health, claim staking vs lapsing, continues to trend on an upswing that started in 2017. In 2017, the total number of claims staked increased over previous years, however 2017 cancelled claims still resulted in a net loss of area with mineral tenure. In the first three quarters of 2018, claims covering 178,868 Ha were added and only 51,058 Ha released; a significant increase in area covered by mineral claims. New staking included large areas in the Mackenzie Mountains, complimented by a re-staking of claims in the Lac De Gras region and an expansion of claims in the Yellowknife area.
Although diamonds remain the only commodity currently mined in the NWT, several new commodities targeting green energy alternatives and battery technologies emerged or advanced this year. Lithium and cobalt were much discussed in the press, and vanadium was also represented by new projects.
At the Diavik mine, the opening of the A21 project was celebrated ahead of schedule in August. The first ore was uncovered in March and the new pit is scheduled to reach full production capacity during the fourth quarter of 2018. In the first half of 2018, the Gahcho Kué diamond mine recovered over 3,570,000 carats of diamond with grades of the ore and value of the stones outperforming expectations. Positive results from the production were augmented by mine-site exploration success and identifying additional tonnage in the Hearne pipe as well as the discovery of the Currie kimberlite within the shell of the Tuzo pit. At the Ekati mine, current surface operations include the Pigeon, Sable and Lynx open pits. Underground operations at the Koala pit will be concluded by the end of 2018. The Misery Underground Project is now underway and the expansion of Misery Camp is slated for early 2019.
The Territory saw activity at several diamond, gold, base metal and lithium exploration projects. Pine Point Mining expanded their exploration efforts with an aggressive drill program to define new resources in the Pine Point Zinc district. Nighthawk continued exploring the Indin Lake volcanic belt and improved the continuity of the resources at Colomac. Closer to Yellowknife, TerraX continued drilling gold targets including the Crestaurum Shear and the extension of the Sam Otto zone on their enlarged Yellowknife Gold Project with good results. Far Resources was able to intersect high grade lithium concentrations at Hidden Lake.
2017-2018 saw the Mining Incentive Program (MIP) budget increased from $400,000 to $1 million; this funding was dispersed to 13 exploration projects (seven companies, and six prospectors). 2017-2018 MIP support resulted in additional exploration investment of over $2.5 million, and led to many encouraging advancements in the funded projects.