Dear Northern Leaders,
You will have seen the announcement this past week by Teck Resources to withdraw its regulatory application for the Frontier oil sands mining project in Alberta from the federal environmental assessment process.
This withdrawal puts on ice, after more than $1.1 billion of investment, a $20.6 billion “socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.”
Investors need legal and policy certainty before investing in any jurisdiction, and we are very concerned that Teck’s decision could cast a pall over all of Canada as a safe country for investment. While minerals mining and exploration in the NWT and Nunavut is not the same as oil sands mining in Alberta, given that Teck’s Frontier proposal was also characterized as a mining project, we are concerned that investors may not distinguish between the two, and may no longer want to invest in any resource development in Canada, including the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
This would not be good for either territory, given that our minerals industry is providing significant employment, business, royalty and other benefits to Indigenous northerners and their governments. Furthermore, it is also important to highlight that resource development decisions in both the NWT and Nunavut benefit from a modern co-management regulatory process with full involvement from local communities and Indigenous governments and organizations.
We are getting feedback from our industry members that the impact of Teck’s decision is being talked about by national and international investors. While we are hopeful that the NWT and Nunavut don’t get painted with that same brush, it would be good for leaders – territorial and Indigenous – to speak out in support of investment in a responsible and sustainable northern minerals industry that works with governments and communities to ensure benefits accrue to the territories and their residents.
We strongly urge you to stand up in support of responsible resource investment and development in the NWT and Nunavut. Your strong statements of support could help differentiate the NWT and Nunavut as good investment destinations, despite what is happening in Alberta.