June 9, 2023


The Fraser Institute's Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2022 held little good news for the NWT's resource extraction industry. Of all the metrics presented in the 80-page document, the Investment Attractiveness Index, above, was the most graphic illustration of the challenges facing a key sector of the NWT's economy. To download the full report, click on image below. Courtesy Fraser Institute

Digging deep for nuggets of NWT news in latest international mining industry survey

The top jurisdiction in the world for investment based on the Investment Attractiveness scale is Nevada, which moved up from third place in 2021, stated the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2022.

Western Australia, which topped the ranking last year, ranked second. Saskatchewan dropped slightly from ranking second in 2021 to third this year. Newfoundland & Labrador ranked fourth, moving up from the 21st place it occupied in 2021.

Rounding out the top 10 are Colorado, Northern Territory, Arizona, Quebec, South Australia, and Botswana.

No, that’s not Northwest Territories, that’s the Northern Territory of Australia. We were considerably further down on the list.

While geologic and economic considerations are important factors in mineral exploration, stated the Fraser Survey, a region’s policy climate is also an important investment consideration.

In the Policy Perception Index, the NWT scored 33% — down sharply from 58% in 2021, 68% in 2020, 63% in 2019 and a high of 77% in 2018.

Up until the fall of 2019, Bob McLeod was premier and Wally Schumann was the minister handling Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI), along with Infrastructure for the business-friendly 18th Assembly.

The current 19th Assembly was elected in the fall of 2019 and was quickly saddled with the pandemic and its rolling business and societal shutdowns for well over two years. So in all fairness, some slack should be cut for the Cochrane government.

Budget 2023 earlier this year stated work is underway to implement the new Mineral Resources Act — proposed by Schumann back in early-2019 — through the development of regulations required to come into force in two years.

Finance and ITI Minister Caroline Wawzonek said in February the Act will “finalize the modernization of our regulatory environment for mineral rights governance within the existing framework for co-management of land, water and resources.”

Perhaps it will help in another area where the territory got tripped up in the Fraser Survey.

When it comes to permitting, Newfoundland & Labrador stood out among all jurisdictions included in the sub-survey, with 43% of respondents indicating they were able to acquire the necessary permits for exploration in two months or less. 

Ontario also fared particularly well, receiving 33% in the two-month turnaround sub-category. And our neighbours to the west, Yukon, scored 25%. 

When it came to BC, Manitoba, NWT and Nunavut, no respondent indicated that they were able to acquire the necessary permits for exploration in two months or less. Zero percent.

The NWT also scored poorly in the Availability of Labor/Skills category — not a surprise, it’s a chronic issue — sitting way down near the bottom of the pack, but above Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nunavut.

  • Political Stability had us in the middle of the international pack, snuggled between Namibia and Brazil.
  • Socioeconomic Agreements/Community Development Conditions? We were fifth from the bottom, besting Angola and the last-place Nunavut.  
  • Uncertainty Concerning Protected Areas had the NWT and Nunavut forming the last two places.

The expected closure of all operating diamond mines by 2030 “will lead to a severely diminished NWT mining sector,” stated the GNWT’s 2023 Budget document.

"Several mineral resource projects, including the Nechalacho rare earths project, are currently underway in the NWT. However, at this time there are no mining projects on the horizon large enough to fill the gap in economic output and well-paid jobs that will be left by the diamond mine closures."

So it's clear the 20th Assembly, to be chosen by the electorate this fall, would be wise to shine a bright light on the resource extraction sector and address some of those issues found in the Fraser Survey. That would include ensuring the new Mineral Resources Act does the job it is apparently supposed to do.

It's elementary: A battery-operated world needs lithium

At least seven companies have NWT lithium projects in their early stages, most of them near Yellowknife, Cabin Radio reported this week in a feature-length article.

A creatively named company called Li-FT says it holds leases covering the majority of what is known as the Yellowknife Pegmatite Province — a magmatic rock which can hold lithium. 

Speaking to Cabin Radio from a lithium conference staged by the National Bank of Canada in New York City, Li-FT chief executive Francis MacDonald told the independent media outlet the North Slave region was once thought to be home to one of the western world’s largest lithium resources.

But it was all but forgotten as the private company owning the leases never marketed them. Now, the e-world is clamouring for the element — especially is it's humanely and ethically sourced.

Li-FT will begin drilling today at sites near the Ingraham Trail, northeast of Yellowknife, to help it understand the potential of the lithium deposits.

Immigration helps boost country's GDP

Canadian GDP performed above expectations in the first quarter of 2023, states the Conference Board of Canada. That uncovers the surprising resilience of Canada's economy in 2023 thus far in avoiding a major downturn, bolstered by robust spending, exports and immigration.

The population increase also helps to ease labour supply pressures and increase domestic demand. While the monthly change in March was flat and seems to be heading in the direction of a slowing economy, it is clear that Canada appears to be avoiding a major downturn. This all bodes well for Canada’s economy but can complicate the picture for the Bank of Canada.


The beautiful, beleaguered and bankrupt Blachford Lake Lodge is set to come up for sale this month, reports Cabin Radio.

The lodge’s doors surprisingly slammed shut in March, as the owners filed for bankruptcy. 

The Business Development and Investment Corporation has begun the legal process of trying to get back more than $1.5 million it says it is owed.

The lodge had earlier appeared for sale on Coldwell Banker’s website for a short time, reports Cabin, listed for $3.9 million. But that included both the buildings and the pre-bankrupt business.

Pending court approval, the new sale of the buildings is expected to start at a nominal $1, with buyers submitting their best offers.

BDO Canada will spend until July 14 courting serious bidders, with final offers due by July 19 and the sale hopefully closing by Sept. 5.

What will Blachford Lake Lodge sell for?
Less than $1 million
$1 million to $2 million
Just over $2 million to $3 million
Just over $3 million to $4 million
More than $4 million


"I already got a call from a tourist highlighting the improvement in speed, and I can see the difference myself."

— Soham Srimani, band manager of the Nahæâ Dehé Dene Band in Nahanni Butte, told Cabin Radio about NorthwesTel upgrades. He continued:

"The internet has become such an integral part of our lives that to be limited is to be left behind the rest of Canada in terms of healthcare, education, and business growth."

"The permitting process (in the NWT) is becoming increasingly more complex. The regulatory boards state they are trying to work with the industry to make things better but because the Feds own the legislation, every time the boards look at a guideline they increase the requirements for monitoring. The latest is monitoring water usage. Now, all water use counts against your permit. It is absurd." 

— An unnamed senior manager of a consulting company, in the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2022.

"It's a bit of an astonishing situation because the fundamentals are actually quite strong. You know, there is strong occupancy. We do have a housing shortage. You know, when they set this thing up and and bought a bunch of properties and listed it on the stock exchange, the case all made sense."

Globe and Mail reporter/columnist Tim Kiladze speaking with CBC Radio Trailbreaker host speaking to Hilary Bird, on why the Northview Canadian High Yield Residential Fund has seen its stock dramatically drop in value in recent months.

"What's changed is more of the investment side of things — the investment thesis, is how I would describe it. Because rates have changed so quickly. I think we now know that that era of ultra-low rates is over and it's all about managing and changing expectations for what this new era looks like."


Friday Futures:

  • After an absence of two years, the NWT Chamber's golf tournament returns Friday, August 18 at the Yellowknife Golf Club. After 18 holes, participants will be treated to a reception with a silent auction and a delicious meal. More details here. Please save the date for this important fundraiser for the NWT Chamber. Also, keep in mind that event sponsorship is an opportunity to show your support for the NWT Chamber!

  • To celebrate the NWT Chamber's 50th anniversary this year, a major one-day conference and evening reception is being planned for Sept. 29. Stay tuned for information.

  • After you've supported the NWT Chamber's two events, our friends at the Economic Development Council of the Northwest Territories (better known by its French acronym CDÉTNO) is holding its 20th Anniversary Gala Oct. 13 at the Explorer Hotel.

The next NWT Chamber Board Meeting is June 21 at 11am in-person or Zoom

You can now find the archive of the NWT Chamber's newsletters here


Inquire with the NWT Chamber's Executive Director about sponsorship and newsletter advertising opportunities. We also offer limited numbers of EBlasts to members each month and promoted social media posts can be arranged.

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