Northern minerals industry welcomes new road infrastructure
12 January 2017
(Yellowknife, NT – January 12, 2017) On behalf of the NWT minerals industry, the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines welcomes the announcement today of conditional approval of federal funding for the construction of the Tlicho All-Season Road in the Northwest Territories (NWT).
The Tlicho road will join the Tlicho community of Whati to the Mackenzie Highway, and importantly will also provide improved transportation access for mineral exploration and development. The most advanced project, Fortune Minerals’ NICO polymetallic project, requires construction of the Tlicho Road to complete project financing, operate the mine, and ship mineral concentrates to southern markets.
Today’s announcement would not only see Tlicho residents benefit from year round, cheaper access but also provide more employment and business opportunities with the future NICO mine. The road will enhance investment in the surrounding region, which is known for its significant mineral potential. The road will also enable economic diversification, including development of potential hydro sites that are needed to support industry.
“The NWT suffers from one of the largest infrastructure deficits in Canada,” said Gary Vivian, President of the Chamber of Mines. “Many of our communities and most of its hinterland rely on seasonal ice roads and expensive air transportation. We welcome this announcement of Federal investment in infrastructure for the Tlicho Road to help reduce the cost of doing business and living in the north, something industry has been encouraging for years.”
The NWT’s diamond mines are the largest private sector industry, making the NWT the third largest global producer of diamonds, but are themselves reliant on a 400-km seasonal ice road. Plans are in the works to upgrade this with an all-weather road too, in time. The diamond mine ice road and the current Tlicho ice road are challenged each year by changing climatic conditions. These issues would be mitigated by an all-weather road reducing the northern premium on mine capital and operating costs.
The Tlicho Road project is currently undergoing an environmental assessment led by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. According to the government media release, confirmation that funding is now available will inform the environmental assessment process in terms of possible timing of construction. The federal government will provide up to 25 per cent of eligible project costs through the P3 Canada Fund.