Slave Geological Province Corridor Project

The Slave Geological Province Corridor will support road access, hydro transmission lines and communications infrastructure into areas of significant mineral potential.

Quick Facts

  • Two-lane gravel infrastructure corridor

  • 413 kilometres in length

  • Estimated cost is $1.1 billion

  • Historic value of production (2018 dollars) from mines within the 213,000 sq km SGP is $45 billion

Project Highlights

  • The Slave Geological Province Corridor would serve as an important transportation, hydro, and communications corridor, while connecting the region and its vast mineral deposits to points south.
  • An all-weather road would adapt to the increasing challenges of climate change by replacing winter roads with more reliable access.
  • Improved access would reduce operating costs for existing mines, and facilitate resource exploration and development activities.
  • All-weather access would support a green economy by enabling development of the Taltson Hydro Expansion and Transmission Line project. It would also enable the extraction of base and precious metals required for low-carbon technologies

Current Status

  • A corridor providing the greatest economic benefit has been identified, based on the results of mineral potential and routing options studies and analysis, and a financing business case analysis is underway.
  • In August of 2019, the GNWT and federal governments announced they were investing $40 million (Canada $30 million, GNWT $10 million) to support environmental regulatory reviews and planning studies to advance the Slave Geological Province Corridor.
  • Five development phases have been identified:
  1. Environmental and Planning Studies
  2. Replacement of the Frank Channel Bridge
  3. Highway 4 to Lockhart Lake
  4. Lockhart to Lac de Gras (diamond mines)
  5. Lac de Gras (diamond mines) to the NWT/Nunavut border
  • Staff from the Department of Infrastructure provided an update on the Slave Geological Province Corridor at the 2019 Yellowknife Geoscience Forum. Click here to view the presentation.

  • Next steps include engaging with Indigenous governments, NWT residents, and other stakeholders, completing a business case and further planning.

Accessing Resources and New Economic Opportunities 

  • The Slave Geological Province (SGP) has significant untapped mineral potential including several defined large base metal deposits (e.g. IZOK – 15 million tonnes and Hackett River - 82 million tonnes) and hundreds of base metal and gold showings (372 along current proposed route alone).
  • Three diamond mines (Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué) produced 20 million carats, $2 billion in revenue and employed over 3,000 people (FTE) in 2017 and contribute $1.1 billion to GDP directly, representing 28% of the NWT economy.
  • However, lack of infrastructure is consistently cited as a major impediment to exploration and development in the region. In a 2016 study of relative mining costs, Schodde determined that costs for mining projects are 40% to 170% higher in the NWT than in southern regions of Canada. The NWT and NU Chamber of Mines (2018) suggests that capital expenditures can be 2.5 times higher in the north and that exploration expenditures can be 6 times higher.
  • Strategic investments in infrastructure – road, energy and communications – would lower the costs for exploration and development, and provide new opportunities for mines that have significant operational requirements for infrastructure.
  • The SGP Corridor would open up access for development of small base metal and gold deposits such as those in the Cameron River Beaulieu River Greenstone belt (e.g. Sunrise deposit 4 million tonnes) along with large, lower grade gold deposits (e.g. Courageous Lake – over $15 billion in situ resources).
  • A firm commitment to the SGP Corridor would extend existing mine life and drive an immediate increase in exploration activity along the proposed route.