Canada’s Northwest Territories is positioned to capitalize on the coming critical minerals supply crunch, says the territory’s Industry, Tourism and Investment minister Caroline Wawzonek.
The territory, perhaps best known for its initial gold rush of the 1800s and subsequent rich diamond-bearing kimberlite discoveries, is once again welcoming mineral explorers and miners with renewed vigour, Wawzonek told The Northern Miner in late January.
“We’re welcoming everybody to the table. A lot of what is at the advanced stages now are projects explored and staked 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years ago. I was just talking with some folks doing some lithium work now, and they’re on a claim that was staked 30 years ago,” the minister says.
“It’s only now that the markets, the demand and the technology are such that they can actually go and explore it. So, what I think is great for us is that timing is coming together.”
She said the territory was excited about the progress Australia-based Vital Metals (ASX: V.M.L.; US-OTC: VTMXF) has made at its demonstration mining-stage Nechalacho rare earths deposit. As the territory prepares for an influx of exploration interest, the minister urges a change to the prevailing narrative about the North being far away and expensive. That was a story 20 years ago.
The minister suggests that thinking ignores the realities of the industry, where there is now more attention being paid to critical minerals and metals, for instance, and a lot more innovation for exploration and new technology available for extraction.
“For example, artificial intelligence is being utilized now on old claims to reanalyze the data and make new hits, often for new mineral resources that weren’t what was being looked for originally,” the minister says.
“There’s this whole new opposite set of opportunities that are erupting. And it’s making what might have been 25 years ago, an expensive project or prospect into something now marketable.”