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I am writing to object to your patronizing column, which completely mischaracterizes my position on mining in the NWT.

Joan Kuyek is an organizer and former national coordinator of MiningWatch Canada.

Any mining should take into account the awesome costs that are externalized to people and the environment. The money going back to governments from mining companies has to be equal to the terrible costs for this and future generations.

I believe that Indigenous governments/peoples should have their own mineral strategies. In the NWT, as elsewhere, most of these nations have been so dispossessed and impoverished by extraction that they feel they have little choice but to accept new mines. Of course, they should decide if they want them and, if so, regulate them.

In exchange for the resources and for ruining the land for future use, mining companies provide some jobs, local contracts and a miniscule share of revenues (often less than the CEO’s salary). The profits go out of the territory and the toxic wastes are left behind.

Hopes and money get pinned on mineral exploration projects than never become mines, but cause endless conflict at the community level. Getting accurate information about these projects is very difficult, and it is not “naïve” (as you call it – not me) to need more information.

Most of the mining projects being touted in the NWT these days have fatal flaws: inability to get a refinery built; dependence on shaky markets and so on. The gold projects that are being proposed will be super pits with serious long-term issues with arsenic and antimony, like Giant Mine.

The editorial distorts my suggestions for the development of economies alternative to mining: remediation of contamination, housing for arctic environments, creative approaches to food production, a university. I advocate for substantial and immediate government investment in equipping First Nations with the expertise, research and capital needed to explore and develop these kinds of alternatives.

That money should have come from taxing existing mines, but, of course, it hasn’t. As it is, the GNWT has one of lowest “government takes” from mining in the world.

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