A newly-signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City of Yellowknife and the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines promises to be a significant milestone for the mining industry in Yellowknife and the territory.

“Working together in partnership with the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines to proactively promote the economy of the city and the region will ensure economic growth into the future,” said Rebecca Alty, Yellowknife’s mayor.

The MOU was signed during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada 2022 Convention, which took place in Toronto from June 13 to 15.

“This MOU recognizes the importance of the mineral resource sector and its contributions to the City of Yellowknife over the past 80 years,” said Kenny Ruptash, president of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. “Our industry looks forward to working closer with the city to continue to build skills, capacity and prosperity for all Northerners.

Tom Hoefer, the chamber of mines’ executive director, added, “Basically, it commits us to develop an annual work plan, and then get together on a regular basis to accomplish what’s in the work plan, with the goal of enhancing and supporting economic development, from our industry to the City of Yellowknife.

“We thought that with, for example, the Diavik (diamond mine) closure that’s pretty quickly coming upon us, it’s going to really affect the economy of the NWT, and so by joining forces, we could find other ways to help increase the mining opportunity.”

Going back to Feb. 9 2021, criticism was raised regarding the signing of a MOU between the City of Yellowknife and the mining chamber.

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During a city council meeting at that time, Todd Slack, former consultant of the Giant Mine Remediation Project, said that “the chamber of mines has routinely worked against Yellowknife’s interests,” noting that over 20 years, the chamber has failed to advocate for the responsible closure of mines while consistently calling for looser regulations, including indefinite land use permit renewal.

Ruptash, who delivered a presentation during an earlier municipal Governance and Priorities meeting, defended the MOU.

He stated that the chamber has working groups with other orders of government to promote all areas of the economy related to mineral development, from exploration to closure.

“This (past MOU with the city) isn’t to message what the chamber wants to message or to message what the city wants to message,” Ruptash said. “It’s to bring insight into projects or developing projects that the city could benefit from, and we can jointly pursue initiatives that would be mutually beneficial.”

Coun. Shauna Morgan was the only councillor who opposed the 2021 MOU with the chamber.

Morgan said at the time that she had issues with the wording in the document that might commit the city to advocate for streamlined or regulatory changes when it is ill-equipped, especially staff-wise, to do so.

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