NWT doles out exploration grants as diamond activity heats up

Northwest Territories, the northern Canadian region known for diamond mining, is giving a leg up to exploration companies through an incentive program it first rolled out in June.

The Mining Incentive Program (MIP) provides funds to eligible prospectors and exploration companies that are already engaged in mining exploration projects or proposing new projects in the NWT.

“Mineral exploration and environmentally sustainable development are an integral part of our economy, but investment in the NWT has been declining in recent years,” NWT Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay said in a press release announcing the MIP, which is modelled on other successful exploration incentive programs in Canada, including the Yukon Territory. “The Mining Incentive Program is an important step towards attracting new investment and encouraging grass-roots mining exploration, which is essential for ensuring the long-term growth of the mining industry.”

North of 60 Mining News reports this week that the program, which has a small budget of $400,000, has awarded grants between C$50,000 and $80,000, to six exploration companies and two prospectors. They includeTerraX Minerals (TSXV:TXR), working the Yellowknife City Gold Project in the Akaitcho region; and North Arrow Minerals (TSXV:NAR), which is developing the Redemption Diamond Project in the Tlicho region.

Home to the Ekati, Diavik and Snap Lake diamond mines, Northwest Territories has attracted recent interest from mineral explorers, particularly those involved in diamond exploration. Gahcho Kue, a large diamond deposit located southeast of Diavik and Ekati, is expected to become one of the largest and richest new diamond mines in the world. The $700 million project is jointly owned by DeBeers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds (NYSE:MDM).

As pointed out in a recent article by Mining & Exploration, several more diamond properties surround Gahcho Kue, including the Kennady North Project with four confirmed diamond pipes; and Prima Diamond Corp (TSXV:PMD), a relative newcomer that won a staking rush to acquire the Munn Lake property north of Gahcho Kue. Prima also owns the little-explored Godspeed Lake property adjacent to Gahcho Kue.

"With its two properties, Prima is well positioned to take advantage of the excitement," Mining & Exploration wrote. "The 14,000-hectare Munn Lake is 40 kilometres northwest of Gahcho Kué and 40 km east of the Snap Lake diamond mine. It has been the site of $6 million worth of exploration, leading to the discovery more than a decade ago of a diamondiferous kimberlite, and huge kimberlite boulders resting at surface some as large as 25 meters in diameter."