Survey says: NWT Residents show strong support for mining

6 June 2016

(Yellowknife, NT – June 6, 2016) Northwest Territories residents have made it clear that they overwhelmingly support mining in the NWT, according to a survey conducted by Abacus Data, a national research company, and commissioned by the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines and the Mining Association of Canada (MAC).

Territory residents believe the industry’s economic contributions are substantial, and companies’ environmental and safety practices are meeting or exceeding their expectations. As a result, respondents said they would welcome new mines and more government support for mining.  

Some highlights:

  • About 8 in 10 people have positive feelings about mining and mineral exploration companies operating in the NWT;
  • 86% believe a strong mining sector is vital to the long-term health of the NWT economy;
  • 86% say mining is good for the NWT, 83% say regulation of the sector works well, and 82% would like to see more mining projects in the NWT.
  • Respondents were asked to assess the mining industry’s performance across a range of areas including economic contribution, treatment of employees, environmental care, worker safety and working collaboratively with Indigenous communities.  Across the board, the large majority revealed satisfaction with the way mining companies have been approaching things.  Fewer than 15% offered negative views on any of these items.

Responding to the results, President of the Chamber of Mines, Gary Vivian, observed that, “Such public confidence is in no small part due to the collaborative work of our Chamber members with local communities and governments in ongoing training, employment and business. It’s also a reflection of the way in which companies today conduct themselves as good corporate citizens. Benefit agreements and resource royalty sharing with Aboriginal governments add to the recognition of how important mining is to the North.  We believe this shows the NWT is a leader in the country when it comes to working with Indigenous communities.”

He added, “As the new NWT government plans its policy initiatives, including a new budget, these results will serve as a helpful indicator of residents’ enthusiasm for mining and their strong support for measures that will enable the industry to seize the wealth of growth opportunities in the NWT.”

The survey also contained important contextual information for governments, including:

  • 84% are worried about the future of the NWT economy;
  • 82% of respondents want to see more mining projects in the NWT, and hope to see the governments of Canada and NWT promoting such activity; and
  • 88% surveyed believe the 18th Legislative Assembly is supportive of mining, however, the majority would like to see an even more supportive approach in the future.

Since 2012, MAC and Abacus Data have conducted similar surveys that are national in scope. According to Pierre Gratton, President and CEO of MAC: “The results in the NWT are striking and welcome news. They reflect the excellent effort of mining companies to be good neighbours and to operate responsibly.  Mining companies are well regarded across Canada. However, in the NWT, mining represents approximately 40% of the territory’s GDP, and so the level of support and the desire to see more projects are even higher than we see elsewhere. The rest of Canada can learn from the NWT on how governments and industry work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities and governments.”

Abacus Data Chairman, Bruce Anderson, added: “The direction of these results is in line with what we have seen across Canada in recent years. People are associating sustainable mineral development with strong economic contributions, and a determined effort to manage environmental impacts, ensure worker safety, and share economic upsides with local and Aboriginal communities. The visibility of the industry in the NWT and the sense of its importance to the future health of the Territorial economy are undoubtedly what contributes to even stronger results than what we see in other regions.”

The telephone survey is the first of its kind conducted by the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines and MAC in the NWT. It was conducted in March 2016 by Abacus Data, a national polling, public opinion and market research organization.

  • Results are based on a dual frame landline and cellphone telephone survey of 510 adults living in the Northwest Territories.  The bulk of the study was fielded from March 10 to 24, 2016.  An additional 15 interviews were conducted from May 31 to June 4, 2016.
  • The margin of error for the survey is + 4.4%, 19 times out of 20.
  • The data was weighted to match the population of NWT according to age, region, gender, and indigenous identity.


BACKGROUNDER (Attached to pdf of the release. Click details link below) 

MINING IN THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, Public Opinion Study, NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, Abacus Data, Spring 2016