Northern Trust Announces $750,000 Funding for Geoscience Surveys to Diversify the Mackenzie Region's Economy
July 10, 2007- Mackenzie, BC -- Bruce Sutherland, Chair of the Northern Development Initiative Trust (Northern Trust) today announced approval of the first project funded by the $32 million Mountain Pine Beetle Recovery Program to diversify the economy of communities impacted by the pine beetle in the BC interior. The $750,000 grant will fund new public geoscience surveys in the Mackenzie-Fort St. James region, as an addition to the recently launched QUEST project being undertaken by Geoscience BC. The forty communities across the Northern Trust area welcome diversification opportunities. The Northern Trust Board and the community Beetle Action Coalitions that advise the Board on this program were unanimous in supporting this investment.
Northern Trust Chair Bruce Sutherland states "The Board was compelled to help our communities become more resilient and diversify their economies by focusing the attention of BC mining and exploration companies on this area. Certainly recent discoveries like Kwanika, found by Serengeti Resources have been huge news in the investment markets in Vancouver and internationally. We are excited about all of the new geoscience and geochemistry information that will be made publicly available next spring, and the potential $8-12 million of exploration that is predicted to follow as a result of this work, providing new revenues for the businesses in Northern Trust communities."
In light of the uncertainty around 900 forest and service industry jobs after recent forest company announcements, it's critical that Mackenzie diversify its economy. These and the 100 mill jobs have been affected in Fort St. James are all influenced by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. They are just pre-cursers to the impacts that the pine beetle will have in other communities across the central interior of BC.
Mayor Stephanie Killam, District of Mackenzie stated that "the District of Mackenzie's long term strategy is to create a stronger, more diversified economy while remaining an attractive and resilient community. Mackenzie's doors are open for business to the mining community for resource exploration and development. The announcement of the grant for new public mineral surveys is a great step forward in meeting this objective".
MLA for Prince George North, Minister Pat Bell commented "As an MLA that was involved in the creation of the Northern Trust and the Minister responsible for the creation of Geoscience BC, it's gratifying for me to see real results on the ground here in Mackenzie. The vision for these two entities was to create economic diversification opportunities in the central interior of British Columbia and today's announcement demonstrates both the Northern Trust and Geoscience BC are fulfilling that commitment".
"The Northern Trust's expansion of the QUEST project will help communities identify mineral deposits and expand their economic possibilities," said Kevin Krueger, Minister of State for Mining. "I am excited about the potential for families whose bread and butter has been forestry to now take part in B.C.'s mining boom."
As the largest public geoscience project ever undertaken in BC, QUEST (Quesnellia Exploration Strategy) is designed to help unlock the Province's mineral potential and stimulate new economic activity in central B.C., particularly those areas affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. Geoscience BC's Board of Directors committed over $4 million to this program.
The original QUEST project will include airborne electromagnetic and airborne gravity surveys over an area of 40,000 square kilometers extending from Williams Lake north to Mackenzie. The project will also include collecting over 2,000 lake and stream sediment samples and reanalyzing over 5,000 existing samples for base and precious metals. Since the QUEST project was announced June 12th, 2007, over 365,000 hectares of new mineral titles have been registered in this 40,000 square kilometer area which shows that this project has already generated a huge amount of industry interest in the area.
With the additional $750,000 of funding from the Northern Trust, the QUEST airborne geophysical work will be extended to the northwest, in the Mackenzie-Fort St James area. The Northern Trust contribution will add over 1500 line-kilometers of electromagnetic surveying and over 3000 line-kilometers of airborne gravity surveying to the project. This will allow QUEST to expand its geophysics footprint from 40,000 to almost 46,000 square kilometers.
Moreover, the Northern Trust funding will allow Geoscience BC to extend the regional exploration geochemical surveys to the northeast, to complete coverage of the Mackenzie region. This will involve collection of at least 600 additional stream and lake sediment samples.
"The QUEST project will allow us to develop a much better understanding of the region's mineral potential, and will help industry target their mineral exploration dollars more effectively." said Dr. 'Lyn Anglin, President and CEO of Geoscience BC. "This type of new geoscience information will stimulate the exploration activity required to make new mineral discoveries." QUEST will be a complement to minerals geoscience programs of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Natural Resources Canada that are planned for the Mountain Pine Beetle area.
Janine North, CEO Northern Trust advised that "This is one of our largest grants announced to date. We look for it to have a large impact on diversifying the economies of the Mackenzie - Fort St James area. The Pine Beetle program funding will continue to flow to projects like this one, with strong technical merit that will be a catalyst for diversification." Over the last two years, the Trust has committed $31.7 million to community diversification investments with a total value of $200 million. Three quarters of those projects are in communities with a population of less than 2,000. To date, 75% of funds approved are loans and 25% are grants.
Geoscience BC is an industry-led, industry-focused, non-profit organization established in 2005 with a $25 million grant from the Province. Its mandate includes the collection, interpretation and delivery of geoscience data and expertise to promote investment in resource exploration and development in British Columbia.
For more details on Geoscience BC's QUEST project visit www.geosciencebc.com.
The Northern Development Initiative Trust was established in October 2004 by the Province of BC through the Northern Development Initiative Trust Act. For more information on the Northern Development Initiative Trust visit www.nditrust.ca.
For more information contact:
Northern Development Initiative Trust
Dr. 'Lyn Anglin
President and CEO