The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The mining industry in Yellowknife

In the short time we’ve been in this spectacular territory, there hasn’t been a shortage of stories of those that initially came north of 60 for a short contract, but ended up relocating for good.

The word that is constantly thrown around when talking about the NWT is without a doubt “opportunity.” The opportunities of the North were certainly highlighted during a presentation from Mr. Tom Hoefer, the Executive Director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. Mr. Hoefer delivered a powerful presentation on the past, present and the anticipated future of the mining sector. With detailed maps and concrete examples of just how the industry serves as the backbone of the NWT, Mr. Hoefer gave us a glimpse of just what mining means to the people here. More than that, he opened our eyes to the other sectors that have thrived due to mining and exploration. It became immediately clear why the NWT ranks at the top of the list, having the highest GDP per capita in the country.

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We saw that mining means much more than mineral or resource extraction here in the NWT; it is a sector that cuts deep into all aspects of life here, especially on social issues. Mining cuts into everything from the obvious such as employment and economic well-being, to the not-so-obvious, such as indigenous land claims, self-government and education. All of us were thoroughly amazed at just how central this sector is in the lives of the people of this territory.

 

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During that same day, we had the chance to see the flipside of the mining sector and the detrimental impacts it can have when not managed adequately. The Giant Mine environmental catastrophe that lies just outside of Yellowknife is an especially emotional topic of conversation here in the NWT. With the Remediation Project long-underway, the end seems to be in sight. The presentation by Natalie Porto, the Deputy Director of the Project gave us the facts, and showed us the timeline in place. With consultations completed, and the pilot site testing the thermosiphon technology to ‘freeze’ the toxic dust buried underground has yielded some positive results.

With both the good and the bad showcased, the interns had an in-depth view of what mining means for the NWT.

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