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Guest comment: mining in Mexico v. the NWT

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Subscribers can dig deeper into the North with our just-released Mining 2019 special.

Seven thousand litres of tequila per NWT resident, that is how much tequila Mexico produced last year. WOW what a party that would be. But that is not all, Mexico is among the world’s top twenty countries for agriculture production, has large manufacturing and oil production, and thirty-five million visitors a year.

So why would Mexico need to have mineral exploration and production? It is among the world’s top producers of silver, lead and zinc, has had mineral exploration and production for over 500 years and is still finding new deposits. Yet, if you go there as a tourist, it is unlikely that you will see even one mine even though Mexico is only forty six percent bigger than the NWT.

But get this: There are 241 exploration and mining companies in Mexico and 161 are Canadian! (compared to less than 20 in the NWT).

The mine near Mineral de Monte in the east-central Mexican state of Hidalgo. Mexico has 241 exploration and mining companies, 161 of them are Canadian. There are just 20 active in the Northwest Territories.

Like most countries, that wish to produce more than they spend, they operate on the engine cylinder principle - if you have a six cylinder engine and try to operate it with only two cylinders firing you will be in trouble. All six have to work in order to move and get anywhere.

So, a country like Chile, which is half the size of the NWT, had seven million tourists in 2018, exports wood, fruit, seafood and wine and is the world’s leading copper producer with active mineral exploration.

The Scandinavian countries, Norway, Sweden and Finland, together, are smaller than the Northwest Territories, live in a cold and arctic climate yet have more mineral exploration than the NWT.

Finland alone has thirty-three exploration projects and approximately one third of these are by Canadian companies. The NWT has less than 20 exploration projects and yet is four times as large as Finland.

NWT and Nunavut Mining Special Report
Subscribers can dig deeper into the North with our just-released Mining 2019 special.

Norway’s oil and gas are 20 per cent of its economy but from this Norway has no debt and over C$1.16 trillion in its Sovereign Wealth Fund. The NWT is not allowed to develop its arctic gas and oil reserves.

But the NWT has something that these other countries who need to develop their economies do not have - the Canadian taxpayer!

Now I hear that the NWT with only 109,500 visitors expected in 2020 believes it can depend on tourism as its main source of revenue. How is this thinking possible? Well it is possible only because the NWT gets some 75 per cent of its revenue from the Canadian taxpayer. But for how long when the Public Debt of Canada is $1.342 trillion and 46 per cent of Canadians are $200 or less away from not being able to pay their bills or debt obligations.

Does the NWT really want to risk their future based on the generosity of southern Canadians?

The Northwest Territories is not only larger than many prosperous countries, but it has a huge natural advantage that others do not have. The mineral potential in the NWT may be the largest under-explored and undeveloped resource of any country in the world, except Russia. The geology of the NWT for mineral, natural gas and oil resources is as good as can be wished for. The people here in the NWT could have the largest per capita income of any nation due to its small population and be a net contributor to Canada rather than the welfare state it is.

The decision is yours.

Ray Hrkac is the former president of GGL Resources Corp.