Encompassing an area the size of Europe, the territories that make up Canada’s North have long known the importance of the natural resources sector, most especially mining, as a foundation of their economies. The three territories – Yukon, Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut – are noted sources of precious metals, diamonds, base metals and rare earth elements (REEs), among others. And given the vast size of Canada’s North, the potential for future projects is enormous.
But equally large is the challenge to showcase the competitive advantages and business opportunities of the territories to global investors at events such as this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention. This was one of the reasons behind the Invest Canada North initiative, which brings together both private and public sector interests to jointly promote the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut.
According to Anne Turner, the Executive Director of the Yukon Mining Alliance (YMA), the genesis in creating the initiative actually goes back to PDAC 2019.
“At that time, each of the territories was effectively siloed from one another, making individual presentations at the convention that left each of us drowned out,” Turner says. “So, several of us began to talk about the idea of combining our forces in a pan-territorial approach that would highlight our strengths at PDAC – the largest annual gathering for the minerals industry. Communicating to investors what’s happening across the North, where the opportunities are, showcasing the leaders in exploration and mining, as well as dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions about working and living in the North is at the foundation of the initiative.”
Out of those preliminary discussions came the formation of Invest Canada North, a joint initiative between the YMA and the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, with the support of the federal government’s Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), territorial governments, as well as industry.
As Turner explains, while there are differences between the territories and there will always be competitiveness for investment, the jurisdictions are most closely aligned in the opportunities for exploration, development and production that exist all across the North and connecting global investors to these.
“We are under explored jurisdictions, that are seeing new discoveries and resources grow,” she says. As well, Turner points out that people in the North have been living and breathing the fundamentals of ESG (environmental, social and governance) for the better part of two or three decades.
“We’re ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to the relationships and partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders. When you combine the under exploration with the partnerships that drive projects forward to success, we have an absolute competitive advantage in the North.”
A close ally of Turner’s in creating the initiative is Paul Gruner, the President and CEO of Det’on Cho Management LP, which is the economic arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation located in Ndilo and Dettah in the NWT. With a mandate to create jobs and increase prosperity, and as one of the largest private employers in the territory, Det’on Cho and Gruner quickly understood the importance of getting behind Invest Canada North.
“When it comes to something as big as PDAC, it just made sense to aggregate our three voices, because we are competing on the world stage,” says Gruner. “This is one of the largest pan-territorial initiatives that is out there. From a branding perspective we all saw that we could tie the three territories together and promote ourselves in much stronger, more focused manner.”
After being unveiled at last year’s PDAC, the initiative took on added importance as the pandemic began to affect the Canadian economy. Turner, Gruner and other members of the team realized the need to pivot Invest Canada North more fully into the digital world, which proved opportune as this year’s PDAC went virtual.
The Invest Canada North website allows visitors to access information on each of the territories, news about various mining projects and an archive of hosted events, such as the Mines’ Ministers Panel taking part as part of this year’s PDAC on the International Stage. For the first time, that event brings together the ministers – responsible for the mining portfolios –from each of the territories to speak about the North. And after the convention ends, the Invest Canada North site will host a four-day, post-PDAC summit series looking at investment opportunities and showcasing 12 companies exploring and operating across the regions, taking place March 16, 18, 23 and 25.
“When it comes to mining, it’s can be hard for some people to realize how important it is to the North,” says Gruner, something that Turner agrees with.
“There were only two jurisdictions in Canada that had a positive GDP in 2020: the Yukon and Nunavut. That’s the impact mining has had,” says Turner. “Mining is at our core here in the North – our history, our culture and our economy. It is our largest private sector economic contributor, and it is critical to who we are and to our survival. Healthcare, education, small businesses: they all depend on mining. So, this initiative gives us the opportunity to showcase the nature of working in the North – and how partnerships give the north their competitive advantage.”
— The preceding Joint Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by INVEST CANADA NORTH and produced in co-operation with The Northern Miner. Visit www.InvestCanadaNorth.ca for more information.