NWT Mineral Exploration and Mining Overview 2019Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 9:00am to 9:20am Theatre One
In spite of a poor year for sales of rough diamonds globally, diamond mining continues to provide a foundation for the NWT economy. Gahcho Kué mine, which has been operating slightly ahead of plan, announced the discovery of the diamondiferous Wilson kimberlite within the current mine plan area. Consistently high forecasts for zinc demand have encouraged both the rejuvenation of Pine Point by Osisko Metals Inc. and NorZinc Ltd.’s ongoing efforts to bring Prairie Creek into production. Gold prices have been buoyed by safe-haven sentiment after concerns over economic growth, tariffs and trade wars with China. Advanced projects have benefited with an improving investment climate encouraging on-going exploration by Nighthawk Gold Corp. and TerraX Minerals Inc.
However, many smaller projects were suspended as the companies were not able to raise sufficient funds on in the investment market. This was particularly true for the commodities targeting green energy and battery technologies. Most of the projects focusing on lithium, cobalt and vanadium started the year strongly but were dormant by the summer. A notable exception was the reactivation of Avalon’s Nechalacho project with an infusion of resources from Cheetah Resources of Australia.
One of the indicators of exploration activity – claims staked vs. lapsed – continued an upward trend that began in 2017. In 2018, a total of 268 claims covering 184,985 hectares were added and 70 claims covering 58, 876 hectares were released. In the first three quarters of 2019, 120 claims covering 45,000 Ha were added but a nearly equivalent area 55,000 Ha in 85 claims and leases were cancelled. There are also 37 active Prospecting Permits this year. New staking included large areas in the Mackenzie Mountains, the additional ground at Pine Point, re-staking of claims in the Lac de Gras region and expansion of claims in the Yellowknife area.
In 2019-2020, the Government of Northwest Territories invested nearly $1 million in grassroots mineral exploration through the Mining Incentive Program. This funding was dispersed to 19 exploration projects comprising twelve prospectors and seven companies. The Mineral Resources Act has passed the legislature marking the NWT’s first-ever stand-alone Act governing mining in the territory.