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Geoscience Forum MAX Awards honour mining industry’s best

It was an evening of giving and receiving during the Geoscience Forum MAX Awards event in Yellowknife on Nov. 17.
Caroline Wawzonek, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, was one of the speakers during the Geoscience Forum MAX Awards in Yellowknife on Nov. 17. Jill Westerman/NNSL photo

It was an evening of giving and receiving during the Geoscience Forum MAX Awards event in Yellowknife on Nov. 17.

The gala was the celebratory culmination of a week of the ‘meeting of the mines’ that occurred during the 50th anniversary of the Geoscience Forum.

After a week-long schedule of presentations, meetings and a trade show, delegates gathered to socialize and recognize contributions and excellence within the realm of mining.

Recognizing achievement

Recognition by way of the MAX Award for Excellence in Mining and Exploration was presented in five distinct categories to the following recipients:

Special achievement — Andy McMullen of BEARWISE: Bear Safety Services

Economic leadership — Cheetah Resources/Vital Metals

Indigenous achievement — Tlicho Government

Distinguished service — NWT Geological Survey

Environmental and social responsibility — Diavik, Ekati and Gahcho Kue mines

Awards were also presented to Diavik for safety leadership and to Gaeleen MacPherson of Diavik in the women in mining category.

Worldwide influence

Tom Hoefer, executive director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, said such an event brings people together from all over the world, enabling them to exchange ideas and practices in the industry.

“They leave the North with a different outlook on how mining is done,” Hoefer said. “We are quite progressive up here and we have a regulatory system that is unique. I think it helps them see another way of working with communities and people.

“They take that information away and they become ambassadors to the North when they leave,” Hoefer said of the networking that occurs during the event.

Collaborative nature

Caroline Wawzonek, minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said the event was also a way to say thank you to those celebrating milestones and achievements in the industry.

In terms of the longevity of mining in the territory, she said the future looks promising and the industry has progressed from 10 to 20 years ago.

“This room tells an interesting story — three diamond mines giving shout-outs to one another in terms of working together and the opportunities they see,” Wawzonek said of the collaborative nature of the mines. “And now critical minerals and metals are at the forefront, but it’s going to take this roomful of folks here to develop that.”

Pine Point revisited

Jeff Hussey, president and CEO of Osisko Metals, based in Montreal, presented the keynote address describing the 50-year history of the Pine Point lead-zinc mining project, located between Hay River and Fort Resolution, including the present-day work being done. He said he, too, sees a bright future for mining in the NWT.

“We are trying to contribute towards it with the Pine Point project and we have been working at it very hard the past four years and we will continue to do so to get it rolling,” he said.

For the children

Another highlight of the evening was the live auction of donated items and travel experiences led by auctioneer Wally Schumann. Delegates dug deep into their pockets to raise $53,100 for the Adopt-A-Family program.

For program volunteer Dianna Beck, the donation means more families in need will have a better Christmas this year.

“In previous years, we have sponsored over 100 children,” Beck said.

In partnership with a local school, a family in need is identified and each child receives four presents: something they can read, can wear, one they need and one they want.

“I really appreciate the mining community for stepping up tonight and making this possible,” Beck said.