Minister Wally Schumann in London to pitch N.W.T. mining to foreign investors

N.W.T. government announces $5.6M for agriculture projects

The minister of industry, tourism and investment is peddling the Northwest Territories' mining potential to foreign buyers in England.

"Our tax base is limited, so it's hard for our government to invest in the projects we need without co-sponsors. That's why we are here," it says in Wally Schumann's prepared remarks for the Canadian Mining Symposium on April 25.

Schumann is at the two-day mining symposium in London with three other department staff. They are staying two additional days to take meetings with "industry types," said department spokesperson Drew Williams in an email.

The trip is expected to cost $64,000, including a $17,000 sponsorship package — which includes a booth, panel discussion on the N.W.T., and a chance for the minister to give a speech, among other things — to promote the territory's mining environment, said Williams.

In an interview with CBC, Schumann said the Northwest Territories needs to bring mining dollars into the territory, pointing to the "billions of dollars they're spending and thousands of workers they do employ."

Schumann said he believes the existing mining industry in the territory is "just scratching the surface of what's actually out there."

Currently, legislators are working on a new Mineral Resources Act that would govern mining in the territory. Schumann planned to tell investors that the new act would "address the need for modern, clear, competitive laws."

Who benefits?

But some MLAs have asked whether the territory gets its fair share from opening up for exploration, pointing to low hiring numbers for Northerners and socioeconomic agreements between government and industry that they believe should have bigger demands and harsher penalties if agreements aren't met.

A big component of the agreements are targets to hire people from the territory.

At a legislative committee meeting on April 17, the Department of Industry shared that every diamond mining company in the territory missed their targets to hire Northerners in 2016, although they are getting closer to their goals.

Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart said at the meeting that socioeconomic agreements should be "legislated" so that there could be "remedies" if the targets were not met.

Frame Lake MLA Kevin O'Reilly asked if mines could be pushed to invest in more long-term projects.

Schumann has said that the territory has to remain competitive and can't drive business away with excessive demands.

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