North

Dozens of northern leaders to attend 2019 Vancouver mining conference

Six out of the seven Northwest Territories cabinet ministers will be attending the four-day conference, as well as several of their staff members. Forty leaders from the territory’s Indigenous groups will also be in attendance.

6 out of 7 N.W.T. cabinet ministers will be attending the 4-day conference

Leaders from across the Northwest Territories meet at the 2017 Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver. The government is sending dozens of leaders again this year, despite criticisms in previous years. (submitted by GNWT)

Dozens of leaders from across the North are in Vancouver this week for one of the country's largest mineral development conferences.

The Association for Mineral Exploration's 2019 Mineral Roundup begins Monday.

Six out of the seven Northwest Territories cabinet ministers will be attending the four-day conference, as well as several of their staff members.

Forty leaders from the territory's Indigenous groups will also be in attendance. N.W.T. MLA Cory Vanthuyne will also be attending as the chair of the legislature's Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment.

The N.W.T. government has come under fire in recent years over the cost of sending dozens of delegates to the conference. In 2018, the territory spent nearly $280,000 to send dozens of cabinet ministers, MLA's, staff and Indigenous leaders to the event.  That number was up from $193,000 in 2017 and $137,000 in 2016.

This year the N.W.T. government is paying for 12 Indigenous leaders to attend the event, two from each region in the territory. The remaining 28 Indigenous leaders will be covering their own costs.

The government has yet to release how much it will be spending on the conference this year.

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann, right, at the mining conference in 2017. (N.W.T. Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment )

"Our unified front at Roundup sends the message to the mining industry that we have a territory that stands united in support of responsible development, ready to work together to secure those benefits for future generations," Wally Schumann, the territory's minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said in a news release.

While at the conference, the territorial government says officials plan to meet with industry leaders and junior exploration companies.

There is also a "Coffee with N.W.T. Leaders" panel taking place on Tuesday as well as an "N.W.T. Night" showcase.

Nunavut and Yukon will also be holding their own showcase nights on Monday.

Last year, the mining conference attracted more than 6,570 participants from 39 countries, according to the association.

The mining conference runs from Jan. 28 to 31.

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