The Slave Geological Province Corridor will support road access, hydro transmission lines and communications infrastructure into areas of significant mineral potential.
Two-lane gravel infrastructure corridor into the 213,000 square km Slave Geological Province
413 km in length
Current focus: 179 km Lockhart All-Season Road
- The Slave Geological Province Corridor (SGPC) would connect the region and its vast mineral deposits to Canada's highway system year-round.
- 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, and economic growth into the future.
- The SGPC project will give better access to a resource-rich region and will create new jobs and millions of wages and contracts for NWT residents and businesses.
- The SGPC alignment could also serve as an important hydro and communications corridor.
- Three development phases have been identified:
- Tibbitt Lake (Highway 4) to Lockhart Lake
- Lockhart to Lac de Gras (diamond mines)
- Lac de Gras (diamond mines) to the NWT/Nunavut border
- The Government of the Northwest Territories' (GNWT) priority focus at the moment is to advance regulatory applications for the first segment of the corridor - the Lockhart All-Season Road from Tibbitt Lake to Lockhart Lake.
- $40 million has been secured for environmental planning and engineering studies - $30 million is from Transport Canada's National Trade Corridors Fund and the GNWT will fund the remaining $10 million.
- The GNWT is planning to conduct geotechnical investigations to gather information to support planning for the proposed Lockhart All Season Road portion of the Slave Geological Province Corridor. The geotechnical investigations will consist of assessing potential hard-rock quarries and granular resources to determine their suitability as material for construction of an all-season road.
In October 2023, in order to proceed with the work, the GNWT has submitted an application for a Type A Land Use Permit through the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The work is planned to take place beginning winter of 2024, with additional field programs in subsequent years as required.
Next steps include:
Engaging with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations.
Environmental baseline data collection.
Geotechnical and archeological data collection.
Engaging with stakeholders and NWT residents.
Accessing Resources and New Economic Opportunities
- The Slave Geological Province (SGP) has significant untapped mineral potential including several defined large base metal deposits and gold showings (350-plus along current proposed route).
- Three diamond mines currently operate in the SGP: Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kue. Between 1996 and 2020, they have cumulatively contributed $23 billion to the NWT GDP - $841.1 million (20.76% of the NWT GDP) in 2020 alone. More than $16 billion of total spending by the NWT mines went to NWT businesses, $7.5 billion of which to Indigenous-owned NWT businesses.
- 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 Nunavut Chamber of Mines (2018) suggests that capital expenditures can be 2.5 times higher in the North and that exploration expenditures can be six 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 Slave Geological Province Corridor would open up access for development of small base metal and gold deposits such as those in the Cameron River, Beaulieu River and Greenstone belt.
- The Slave Geological Province Corridor also has the potential to make a transformative impact in the Northwest Territories by helping unlock our full economic potential, and supporting Canada as we transition to a lower-carbon economy.