2023 Geoscience Forum
The 2023 event will be held in Yellowknife from November 15-17, 2023.
2022 Geoscience Forum
The 50th Annual Geoscience Forum Tradeshow and Conference was held in Yellowknife November 15-17, 2022. It was the first in-person Forum post-COVID, and was relatively well attended with 560 attendees, 54 trade show exhibitors, and over 75 talks and posters.
Abstracts describing all presentations can be found here.
A good time was had by all.
Attendees at the Mining and Exploration (MAX) Awards Banquet raised over $50,000 for a local Yellowknife family charity.
Nunavut Mining Symposium
2022 Nunavut Mining Symposium, May 9-12, 2022
Work is underway to host the 2022 Nunavut Mining Symposium as a live, in-person event. Due to an abundance of caution over COVID, the event is now scheduled a month later from May 9-12, 2022.
Visit https://www.nunavutminingsymposium.ca/ to learn more and register.
NWT MAX Awards
----------------------------------------- 2023 MAX Awards ----------------------------------------
On November 16, 2023, the MAX Awards Banquet saw the following recipients honoured:
2023 MAX Awards Recipients
- Economic Leadership: MET/Nuna
- Indigenous Achievement: Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation
- Women in Mining: Grace Mackenzie
- Distinguished Service: Nellie Cournoyea
- Special Achievement (posthumously): Don Bubar
- Environmental, Social & Governance: Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué Diamond mines, Pine Point Mining and Gold Terra Resources
- WSCC Safety: Sheila Chernys
View the full release for details.
----------------------------------------- 2022 MAX Awards ----------------------------------------
In November 2022, the first in-person, post-COVID MAX Awards Banquet was held again in Yellowknife as the final event of the 50th Annual Geoscience Forum Tradeshow and Conference. The recipients are as follows:
2022 MAX Awards Recipients
- Special Achievement – Andy McMullen, BearWise
- Economic Leadership – Cheetah Resources/Nechalacho Mine
- Indigenous Achievement – Tlîchô Government
- Environmental, Social & Governance award – Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué diamond mines
- Distinguished Service – Northwest Territories Geological Survey
- Women in Mining Award – Gaeleen MacPherson
- Safety Leadership – Diavik Diamond Mine
Special Achievement – Andy McMullen, BearWise
Andy’s passionate and ongoing efforts, that began during the diamond exploration boom of the 1990s, has enabled the minerals industry to show it can successfully co-exist with and protect northern grizzly bears. Andy reached out and found diamond miners and explorers quick converts to bear protection. His approach was not to have the companies manage bears, but rather to manage themselves in bear country. His enthusiasm, humour and use of innovative props helped deliver the message, as did the preventative measures he recommended including electric fences, incinerators, and deterrence training.
Economic Leadership Award – Cheetah Resources/Nechalacho Mine
Nechalacho is the first rare earth mining project in Canada. Through innovation, they acquired the near surface resources of the of the Nechalacho property, are mining the ore with an Indigenous mining company and workforce that is majority Indigenous, is using innovative ore sorting technology to reduce its environmental footprint and has established a mine-to-manufacturer supply chain that links the Northwest Territories to European green energy that is helping address climate change.
Indigenous Achievement – T?îchô Government
Under historic T?îchô Chief Jimmy Bruneau’s “strong like two people” vision, the T?îchô Government oversees some of the richest mineral potential in the Northwest Territories. By working closely with diamond mine developers, they are capturing not only employment and business benefits, but also investments for the T?îchô people and communities. The T?îchô are active in promoting their region and the NWT at national and international mineral conferences and are active in supporting and seeking infrastructure investment, from hydropower to roads. Through their efforts, the T?îchô Highway to Whatì was officially opened last fall, and this road will now support critical and other mineral development in the T?îchô region.
Distinguished Service – Northwest Territories Geological Survey
As honest brokers of geoscience information, the NTGS team is dedicated to knowledge dissemination and educational activities. Formed in 2001, the NTGS shares expertise in geophysics, surficial geology, economic, industrial and critical minerals and recently added geothermal energy. They also administer the Mining Incentive Program, which funds prospector and corporate exploration projects, and leverages three times the government investment. The NTGS houses and disseminates an enormous collection of NWT mineral exploration data available for public use.
Women in Mining Award – Gaeleen MacPherson
This year’s inaugural “Women in Mining” Award goes to Gaeleen MacPherson, who began her mining career with Diavik Diamond Mines in the late 1990s. From that foundation, she has progressed through ever increasing levels of responsibility, and at all three NWT diamond mines, including Vice President of Corporate Affairs at the Ekati diamond mine, the highest position held by an Indigenous woman in the NWT mining industry. Currently, she is the Senior Manager of Human Resources for Rio Tinto Diavik. Gaeleen has made incredible achievements towards developing women, indigenous peoples, and northerners through her decades-long career, and is a tremendous role model for women in the northern mining industry.
Environmental, Social & Governance award – Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué diamond mines
The NWT’s diamond mines have elevated the territory to the world’s third most valuable diamond producer. Importantly, they have led the way been models of ESG since the late 1990s. All have socio-economic agreements with commitments to training, jobs and business. Each has community-based environmental oversight boards. Collectively, they make significant, voluntary contributions to community infrastructure: from arenas to senior centres; and from community facilities to women’s shelters. All have received multiple awards recognizing their exemplary efforts for safety, environmental protection and socio-economic contributions.
Safety Leadership – Diavik Diamond Mine
The Diavik Diamond Mine played a leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. They were one of the first companies to implement stringent screening protocols, working with a well-known Medical Director to develop a strong Covid-19 management plan, and then freely shared the information through the Northern Mine Safety Forum. This mine continues to be a leader in maintaining their pandemic safety plan and continued efforts in fighting the virus. The work they put in during the early phases of the pandemic has allowed them to be proactive and prepared for any outbreaks. Their efforts and leadership helped demonstrate to the chief public health officer that mining could continue safely in the face of the pandemic.
----------------------------------------- 2019 MAX Awards ----------------------------------------
As a result of COVID, no MAX Awards were presented in 2020 and 2021.
In 2019, the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines recognized several recipients with MAX Awards for their excellence in mining and exploration in the Northwest Territories. MAX Award recipients have all played an enormous role in responsible and successful resource development, helping establish industry best practices, creating opportunities, and demonstrating leadership in their respective categories. Their contributions include highlighting the minerals industry, exploring for, finding and developing resources, engaging with the public and governments, ensuring Indigenous participation, creating jobs and business benefits, and training northerners, all of which strengthens the Northwest Territories.
2019 MAX Awards Recipients
- Distinguished Service – Walt Humphries
- Economic Leadership – Det’on Cho Management LP
- Environmental Responsibility – Newmont Goldcorp Corporation
- Indigenous Achievement – Shayne Paul
- Special Achievement – Hilary Jones
- Honorary Achievement – Bob McLeod
Click here for the awards presentation slides.
Distinguished Service – Walt Humphries
Walt Humphries has made significant contributions to mineral exploration and tirelessly promotes public education and awareness about minerals and their importance to society. He is a graduate of Haileybury School of Mines. He came to Yellowknife in 1969 and in 1974 started W.J. Humphries Mineral Exploration, a contract and consulting company. He is also an independent prospector, developing his own properties, one of which TerraX is currently doing major work on. He has taught well over 50 prospecting courses across the North. Throughout, he has shown a commitment to sharing information, and educating and inspiring youth in exploration and the earth science. Walt is the founder and past president of the Mining Heritage Society, now known as the Yellowknife Historical Society, a group committed to, amongst other things, preserving and displaying history and establishing a museum. Walt is a well-known local artist famous for his works of town life and bush life. There will be an art show of his work at the Prince of Wales Norther Heritage Center starting in December and running to next June. In his award winning newspaper column ‘Tales from the Dump’, Walt often provides readers with important messages on balancing development along with caring for the environment.
Economic Leadership – Det’on Cho Management LP
De’ton Cho Management LP is not only a leader among Indigenous business corporations, but also a significant force in all of the NWT’s corporations. The economic development arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Det’on Cho began humbly in 1988 with a meagre $15,000 start-up grant. Thanks to the discovery of diamonds and world class diamond mines, Det’on Cho was able to reimage itself as a mining supply business. Today, 30 years later, it has grown its annual revenues beyond $50 million, and employs 800 people with 600 being local NWT residents within its 15 companies. This makes Det’on Cho one of the top 3 private employers in the Territory for residents. Det’on Cho epitomizes what vision, hard work and determination can create when working in the minerals industry.
Environmental Responsibility – Newmont Goldcorp Corporation
Newmont Goldcorp Corporation has shown outstanding commitment and leadership in environmental stewardship through its ongoing work to reclaim the Con Mine on the south boundaries of Yellowknife. The company’s acquisition of Miramar Mining Corp. in 2008 included the past producing Con gold mine. While Newmont Goldcorp never poured on ounce of gold from the mine, nor made any profit from it, it has taken its commitments to safely reclaim the mine seriously. With little fanfare, the company continue to successfully advance the old mine site to achieve the various future land use objectives.
Indigenous Achievement – Shayne Paul
Shayne Paul is an outstanding model of Indigenous achievement in the minerals industry. Raised in Yellowknife, he originally began his career in aircraft maintenance working off the docks at the Air Tindi float base.But after graduating from SAIT in 1992 and several years in the field, an opportunity arose to return to school. He switched his focus to engineering and graduated from the University of Calgary in 1999 with a degree in civil engineering. His timing was great, and he soon began work on the construction of Diavik’s first award winning rockfill dike which made the mine possible. With Diavik construction over, he transitioned to operations and quickly rose to the position of mine superintendent. With Rio Tinto, he seized an opportunity in 2007 to move to Salt Lake City and later Ulaanbaatar, to work on the world class Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the South Gobi of Mongolia. In 2014, Shayne accepted a position as senior mining manager at De Beers’ Gahcho Kué mine. When people heard Shayne was back in the North – he was flooded with resumes from colleagues wanting the opportunity to come back and work with him. Through his dedication to the North, his professionalism, and his long-term commitment to northerners and the mineral industry, Shayne is an exceptional role model for Indigenous youth and northerners on just what is possible when you put your mind to it.
Special Achievement – Hilary Jones
Hilary Jones has been instrumental in creating people success. Hilary joined the two year old Mine Training Society in 2006 as general manager, a position she has occupied with great skill and success since. Working with industry, Indigenous and government partners, Hilary guided the work of the society from success to success. She sourced the funding, found the instructors, and drove the 'little engine that could' into a Canadian leader in mine training. Programs delivered in the NWT and Kitikmeot included:
- Surface and underground mining
- Process plant operations
- Industrial safety training
- Geoscience and prospecting
Hilary and her team:
- Sourced nearly $40 million in federal funding, with supplementary funding from other partners including the GWNT, industry, and Indigenous groups
- Found in-kind support worth a matching $41 million
- And with all of this, she helped facilitate employment of a whopping 7% of the NWT’s entire labour force – that’s an outstanding accomplishment that has fueled a new generation of Indigenous miners.
And she shared freely the society’s secrets to success, its policies, programs, methods with anyone that asked. These are outstanding achievements.
Honorary Achievement – Bob McLeod
The recipient of our first honorary MAX award was presented to to Robert M (Bob) McLeod, who has been our Northwest Territories premier for two terms from 2011 to 2019, for the 17th and 18th Legislative Assemblies. Throughout his leadership, he spoke strongly in support of the need for, and value of, responsible resource development. Bob clearly recognized that rocks and people are the NWT’s economic strength, and that development of both is required if we are to create a more self-reliant and independent North. To do this, Bob recognized northerners must be in control of their own destiny – including the importance of managing land and its resources. Bob oversaw the NWT taking over responsibility for land and water and non-renewable resources from the federal government in the 2014 Devolution Agreement. It was and continues to be one of the most significant and historic events to take place on his watch as premier of the NWT and a vital piece of the territory's devolution process. Bob spoke powerfully and ardently in support of resource development, so much so that he even called a 'red alert' on the prime minister of Canada, when the prime minister unilaterally declared a moratorium of drilling in the Beaufort Sea. In his many efforts in supporting non-renewable resource development over his many years in government, Bob set the tone for a stronger Northwest Territories.
----------------------------------------- 2018 MAX Awards ----------------------------------------
In 2018, the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines announced the second annual MAX Awards recipients. MAX Award recipients, recognized for their excellence in mining and exploration in the Northwest Territories, have all played an enormous role in responsible and successful resource development; generating opportunities and demonstrating leadership in their respective categories. Their contributions include finding and developing resources, engaging with the public and governments, ensuring Indigenous participation, creating jobs and business benefits, and training northerners, all of which adds to the well-being of the Northwest Territories. The awards, a partnership of the Chamber of Mines and the Government of the Northwest Territories Industry, Tourism & Investment Department, were presented November 22 in Yellowknife.
The 2018 MAX Awards recipients are:
- Distinguished Service: Gren Thomas – explorer and mine finder
- Economic Leadership: De Beers Canada – Gahcho Kué diamond mine operator
- Environmental & Social Responsibility: Ni Hadi Xa environmental monitor for Gahcho Kué mine
- Indigenous Achievement: Cece Hodgson-McCauley – Development & community supporter
- Special Achievement (shared):
- Diavik Dike Design, Construction and Operations
- Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Ice Road
Click here for the awards banquet slides highlighting the recipients, with Keynote Speaker Robin Goad from Fortune Minerals.
Distinguished Service Award: Gren Thomas
Gren Thomas arrived in Yellowknife over 50 years ago. Since then, he has explored for mineral deposits in the NWT and Nunavut, heading up several companies including Highwood Resources, Aber Resources, Navigator Resources, Stornoway and North Arrow Minerals. Most importantly, Gren’s efforts have resulted in new and significant mineral discoveries, including the Diavik mine, Thor Lake (now the Nechalacho project), Sunrise base metal, and others that may one day become mines.
Economic Leadership: De Beers Canada
De Beers Canada has contributed over $7 billion to the Canadian economy, including $2.1 billion to the NWT economy. Since 2005, $3.5 billion has been spent with Indigenous and NWT businesses through Snap Lake and Gahcho Kué mines. This represents 78 per cent of De Beers Canada’s total spend to build and operate these mines. Over the life of the Gahcho Kué mine, a joint venture with Mountain Province Diamonds, De Beers Canada expects to contribute a further $5.3 billion to the NWT economy.
Environmental & Social Responsibility: Ni Hadi Xa, monitoring of Gahcho Kué Mine
Ni Hadi Xa is a cooperative of five Indigenous parties and De Beers that focuses on traditional knowledge and supports Indigenous community participation in environmental monitoring and management programs at the Gahcho Kué diamond mine. Ni Hadi Xa staff includes a minesite environment monitor working with the mine’s environmental team to provide real-time feedback to improve practices and maintain strong communication. Ni Hadi Xa’s on-the-land program supports Indigenous people to travel to, and observe the region around the mine, practising traditional activities.
Indigenous Achievement: Cece Hodgson-McCauley (posthumous)
A tireless ‘woman warrior’, Cece Hodgson-McCauley ardently advocated for completion of the Mackenzie Valley Highway as she understood its potential to advance economic development and assist northern communities. She was a selfless and tireless supporter of her people, seeking change and working hard towards stronger northern communities. She supported responsible resource development and the jobs and business benefits it would bring. Through a weekly column in News/North, she passionately shared her thoughts about the importance of economic development and government’s role in it.
Special Achievement (shared):
Diavik Dike Design, Construction and Operations
For its outstanding engineering and construction success, the first of Diavik’s three rockfill dikes – named A154 for the orebodies it surrounded – received the 2003 Canadian engineering profession’s national award. The structure allowed safe open pit and underground mining of world class diamond deposits discovered under Lac de Gras. Using the same award-winning approach, Diavik built a second dike for mining of the A418 orebody, and in 2018 completed its third and final dike to mine the A21 orebody. Diavik’s dike technology has allowed access to valuable resources that have generated significant benefits for the North and its people.
Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Ice Road
The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road is the most unique winter road in the world, being the longest road built over ice-covered lakes linked by land portages. It was developed from a road pioneered in 1962 to the historic Tundra gold mine. In the early days, the ice road supported 130-150 truckloads hauling up to 2,500 tonnes. Twenty years ago, a Joint Venture under the diamond took over the safe construction and operations of what has become a world-famous ice-road. The largest season saw 330,000 tonnes of freight safely trucked north in nearly 11,000 truckloads in its two-month season – over 100 times the annual tonnage hauled in its early days. Without this unique technology the gold and diamond mines hundreds of kilometres north of Yellowknife would not have been possible. The ice road has helped unlock significant benefits to the North, to Indigenous communities and to Canada.
Click here for the awards banquet slides highlighting the recipients, with Keynote Speaker Robin Goad from Fortune Minerals.
----------------------------------------- 2017 Inuagural MAX Awards ----------------------------------------
The 2017 MAX Awards coincided with the Chamber of Mines’ 50th anniversary and the 45th Annual Geoscience Forum, and were presented Thursday, November 16, 2017 at the Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife. Below are the 2017 recipients.
Recipients of the 2017 MAX Awards were:
- Distinguished Service – Aurora Geosciences
- Economic Leadership – Ekati Diamond Mine and Diavik Diamond Mine
- Environmental & Social Responsibility – Diavik Diamond Mine and TerraX Minerals
- Indigenous Achievement Awards – Joe Rabesca and Darrell Beaulieu
- Special Achievement Awards – Mine Training Society and Altaf Lakhani
Indigenous Achievement Award - Joe Rabesca
This award celebrates and recognizes NWT Indigenous leaders, organizations, or companies in the mining or mineral exploration sector who have demonstrated excellence in any of the following areas:
- Best practice
- Capacity-building in their home community or region
As Tlicho Grand Chief in the mid-1990’s, Rabesca recognized that resource development presented an enormous opportunity for the Tlicho.
Exciting diamond discoveries had just been made on Tlicho traditional lands. Resource development was on their doorstep, and their recently-settled land claim would mean more control of land and resource management. Joe took the lead on negotiating benefits with Ekati and Diavik for the Tlicho, and forging a way forward for the Tlicho Investment Corporation. Ultimately, this work would result in contracts in the hundreds of millions, and countless wellpaying jobs for his people.
Distinguished Service Award - Aurora Geosciences
This award recognizes an individual or organization who has achieved one or more of the following:
Made a substantial contribution to mineral exploration and mining development in the NWT over a number of years.
Made outstanding contributions to the NWT minerals industry in the fields of:
- Geochemistry research
- Any other related activities
Aurora Geosciences earned the Distinguished Service Award for their leading work in geoscience — including training hundreds of geoscience professionals who cut their teeth with the company over decades. Their story has deep roots in the NWT, and their impact has been felt from Nunavut to Alaska as leaders in their field across the North.
Environmental and Social Responsibility Awards
Environmental Responsibility - Diavik Diamond Mine
This award honours outstanding achievements in two areas:
- Outstanding initiative, leadership, stewardship and accomplishment in protecting and preserving the natural environment
- Establishing good community relations during an exploration program or operation of a mine
Nominations may be for an individual or organization.
Diavik was recognized for reducing greenhouse gas using wind power at their remote mining operation.
This included the innovative step of constructing four turbines to help reduce diesel use and reduce their carbon footprint.
This was a globally innovative solution — they operate the world’s northernmost diesel-wind hybrid power system.
Social Responsibility - TerraX Minerals
TerraX Minerals, a junior exploration company focused on its Yellowknife City Gold Project, was honoured for building great relationships with communities.
From sponsoring training, to community outreach, TerraX has made the effort to involve communities throughout their exploration program.
Special Achievement Award - NWT Mine Training Society
This award recognizes exceptional contributions to the NWT minerals industries.
This could include long-term contributions, cutting-edge innovations, brilliant leadership, or any other contributions deemed worthy of celebration.
The Mine Training Society was recognized for getting countless NWT residents the skills they need to succeed in mining — and beyond.
Since 2003, their partnership with the GNWT, Government of Canada, and mineral explorers and developers has provided training and career counselling services responsive to the business landscape.
Special Achievement Award - Altaf Lakhani
As a leader at the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), Altaf Lakhani dedicated 30 years to working with northern and Indigenous communities to
successfully promote economic opportunities. In the mining world, he’s best known as the architect of the Community Readiness Initiative. This program was developed to aid communities across the North to help them capitalize on opportunities associated with mining and exploration.
Economic Leadership Award - Ekati Diamond Mine and Diavik Diamond Mine
This award highlights work which has made significant contributions to the NWT’s economy in mineral exploration or development recently, or historically.
Eligible nominees may be:
- Service companies
This progress can be related to the development of a specific project or to the overall activities of the nominee.
These diamond mines were recognized for the pivotal role they play in the NWT economy. This includes $14 billion in spending on northern business since 1996. Almost half was spent on Indigenous-owned companies. This has meant 28,000 person-years of employment to northern residents, and several hundred million dollars in taxes and royalty payments to governments.
NWT Mining Week
Mining Week in Yellowknife is a promotional event sponsored by the Chamber, to celebrate our industry with the public. Mining Week - June 2-9 in 2018 - allows us to show the public some of what we do and how our industry benefits northerners and Canadians in general.
Several events - free and open to everyone - are held, including the annual Chamber of Mines Miner's Picnic on Saturday June 2 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Yellowknife Multiplex fieldhouse parking area. The picnic coincides with the 61st annual WSCC mine rescue competition.Other events during the week included rock walks showcasing local geology, Farmers Market geology tent, Northwest Territories Geological Survey tour and Resources and Energy Development Information (REDI) event. Poster here!