Evaluation of Geo-Mapping for Energy and Minerals Program

Table of Contents


Acronyms and their Meanings
Acronym Meaning
AANDC Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
ADM Assistant Deputy Minister
AGN Advisory Group of Northerners
CAMIRO Canadian Mining Industry Research Organization
CanNor Canadian Northern Development Agency
CAPSnet Canadian Advanced Polar Science Network
CNCB Central and Northern Canada Branch (of Geological Survey of Canada)
CRD NSERC/NRCan Collaborative Research and Development Program
DFO Department of Fisheries and Oceans
DG, DGs, DGO Director(s) General (Office)
DPR Departmental Performance Report
EA Evaluation Assessment
EGM GEM-Energy Component
ESS Earth Sciences Sector (Natural Resources Canada)
FPT Federal/Provincial/Territorial
FSWEP Federal Student Work Experience Program
GAC Geological Association of Canada
GCO GEM Coordination Office
GEOIDE Geomatics for Informed Decisions
GEM Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals
GFS Government Financial System
GKM GEM-Knowledge Management Component
GMF Geological Map Flow
GSC Geological Survey of Canada
HRSDC Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
HQP Highly Qualified Personnel (e.g., geoscientists)
IGA Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord
INAC Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
IOCG Iron Oxide Copper Gold Ore Deposits
MGM GEM-Minerals Component
MiHR Mining Industry Human Resource Council
MNABES Minister’s National Advisory Board for the Earth Sciences
NGOs Non-Governmental Organizations
NGSC National Geological Surveys Committee
NRCan Natural Resources Canada
NSERC Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
NWT Northwest Territories
NU Nunavut Territory
NTI Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
PAA Program Activity Architecture
PDAC Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada
PEP Professional Enhancement Program
PIAP(s) Project Identification and Annual Plan(s)
RAP Research Affiliate Program
RMAF Results-based Management and Accountability Framework
RPM Remote Predictive Mapping
RPP Report on Plans and Priorities
SED NRCan’s Strategic Evaluation Division
SINED Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development
SME Small to (or and) Medium-sized Enterprises
SPS Sector Project System
SSO Shared Services Office
TGI (TGI-3) Targeted Geoscience Initiative and TGI Phase 3
VMS Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide

Executive Summary

Background

This is an evaluation report of the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) Program of the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).Footnote 1 The GEM Program began in 2008-09 with an initial budget of $100 million over five years.Footnote 2 This evaluation covers the four-year period 2008-09 to 2011-12, including expenditures of approximately $86.1 million.

GEM was introduced in Budget 2008, which noted that, “[t]he development of energy and mineral resources is the primary source of economic growth in Canada's North. Exploration for new mineral resources is an inherently risky, but potentially rewarding economic activity, leading to new job opportunities and contributing to the viability of many resource-dependent communities. Publicly available geoscience maps help companies target new exploration activity to the areas of highest mineral potential.”Footnote 3

The objective of the Program was to provide the public geoscience knowledge base needed to support increased economic prosperity of Northern Canada through stable long-term investment in resource development. This was to be accomplished by providing the public geoscience knowledge required for investment and development decisions by the private sector and Northerners in general.Footnote 4

The rationale for the Program was to take advantage of surging global demand and high commodity prices, which provide an unprecedented opportunity for Northerners to realize economic and social benefits from resource development. There are large gaps in the geological knowledge of Northern Canada. Significant areas of the Territories remain to be mapped to a standard that would provide modern data sufficiently detailed to make a preliminary assessment of the resource potential, and thereby stimulate exploration activity.

The GEM Program is based on a mix of site-specific and thematic activities that include:

  • community-level consultation and information sessions;
  • compilation of, and adding value to, available existing data including industry data where available;
  • re-analysis of existing sample sets;
  • remote predictive mapping;
  • new broad-scale geological/geophysical/geochemical mapping;
  • new strategically targeted geological mapping;
  • exploration method development; and
  • data management and delivery.

The GEM Program consists of three components: GEM-Energy; GEM-Minerals; and GEM-Knowledge. The GEM Program includes approximately 20 projects under the three components. Projects are located in three territories and the northern parts of six provinces.Footnote 5 Project areas were prioritized using the following criteria:

  1. the adequacy of existing geological knowledge;
  2. territorial and provincial regional development priorities;
  3. local community perspectives on economic development; and
  4. industry priorities for exploration strategies and investment.Footnote 6

Project field crews include federal and territorial employees, university professors and students, industry experts and local employees.

The focus for GEM projects was priority areas with more complex geological structures and heightened potential for mineral deposits. Where an area was judged likely to be of interest to industry, a full suite of products (bedrock and surficial geology, geophysics, geochemistry) would be produced by GEM. In lower priority areas, the geology would be characterized at a coarser resolution.

The Program theory of GEM is that discovery or location of mineral or energy resources in sufficient quantity and quality would attract resource exploration industries. These companies would create demand for local employees. The existence of this demand, in turn, would encourage the development of a pool of sufficiently-trained personnel with technical and/or academic backgrounds. All of this would contribute to growing local infrastructure and expertise development. Based on previous analysis,Footnote 7 the $100 million investment in GEM was seen as having the potential to generate in excess of $500 million in cumulative private sector exploration expenditures with eventual resource discoveries worth possibly $12 billion.

Given the high risk and costs involved in Northern exploration, industry cannot carry out the initial groundwork on its own. Publicly available geoscience information, accessible to all stakeholders, is believed to encourage industry exploration investment by potentially increasing the effectiveness of exploration programs.Footnote 8 Countries, such as Australia and the United States, are also seeking exploration investment and are investing in public geoscience for similar reasons to those of Canada.Footnote 9 The GEM initiative was aimed at updating existing data and models to the level that industry needs to be more effective in its exploration efforts.Footnote 10

GEM's design was built on lessons learned from a related NRCan program – the Targeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI). An evaluation of the first phase of TGI was completed in 2003.Footnote 11 That evaluation verified that close collaboration with provincial and territorial partners is an effective means of delivering public geoscience programs and concluded that the continuation of the Program, or initiation of a similar program, would be of great benefit to all stakeholders.Footnote 12 Logistical support for GEM is provided by NRCan's Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP).

The responsibility to provide public geoscience is shared among federal, provincial and territorial surveys under the terms of the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord (IGA), which was first signed by ministers in 1996 and most recently renewed in 2012. The IGA sets out the respective roles of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), on the one hand, and the provincial and territorial surveys, on the other, and also establishes principles and mechanisms of cooperation.Footnote 13

All data produced federally through GEM were to be made available on line in digital format using the standards developed under the GeoConnections Program. Where appropriate and cost effective, data were to be acquired under contracts with the private sector and subjected to quality assurance and quality control.

Governance

The Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for the Earth Sciences Sector of NRCan has overall accountability for GEM. The ADM receives advice and strategic guidance on the management and delivery of GEM from the Advisory Group of Northerners (AGN) as well as from the GSC Advisory Committee and other committees organized at the director general level.

Evaluation Scope and Approach

This evaluation covered the period 2008-09 to 2011-12 and was conducted between the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012. The objectives of the evaluation were to assess the relevance and performance of the GEM Program in meeting its objectives; make recommendations for consideration by NRCan program and senior management; and present an accurate and timely verification of the Program's activities and outcomes.

Multiple lines of evidence were used for the evaluation including:

  • a document and literature review (more than 100 documents);
  • interviews (60 in support of the general evaluation and a further 26 in support of the case studies);
  • an online survey (12 of 36 companies completed the survey); and
  • five case studies.Footnote 14

Findings and Conclusions

Overall, the GEM Program is addressing the need for public geoscience in the North, in order to contribute to economic and social (training, employment) growth as evidenced by the uptake of its products by the private sector and Northern communities. More specifically:

  • GEM is providing the geoscience knowledge base that makes exploration more cost-effective (reducing exploration risk by improving knowledge), and industry is using that data in its exploration planning;
  • GEM is providing geoscience for resource management, land use planning and other activities; and
  • GEM delivery is addressing development of highly qualified personnel.

Relevance

GEM is consistent with federal priorities and departmental mandate; in particular, the Government of Canada's Northern Strategy and the priority of establishing sustainable economic growth in the North. It is aligned with the 2007 and 2008 Speeches from the Throne. GEM is aligned with NRCan's Strategic Objective 1 – Economic Competitiveness, the mandate of the GSC and other NRCan priorities, such as Advancing Sustainable Resource Development in the North (2011-12 Program Activity Architecture [PAA] and the 2011-12 Report on Plans and Priorities [RPP]).

GEM is also consistent with the role of NRCan's Geological Survey of Canada, which is responsible for providing Canada with a comprehensive geoscience knowledge base that contributes to economic development, public safety and environmental protection. The Program is also in line with the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord, which clearly defines federal and provincial roles and responsibilities and areas for cooperation and collaboration.

Most mineral resources in Canada are considered to be public assets, and governments support the responsible development of these resources as being in the public interest. Therefore, the provision of public geoscience information to stimulate exploration is a key element of federal, provincial and territorial mining strategies.

The need for such a government program remains. Most importantly, there are still large areas in the North where there is insufficient geoscience information to help guide effective private sector investment in exploration and where mapping is still needed. More specifically:

  • GEM's socio-economic drivers (e.g., need for sustainable economic development in the North) are unchanged; and
  • achievement of GEM's long-term outcomes—commercial development of resources using GEM data—can take 10 to 20 years.Footnote 15

No organization, other than NRCan, has the resources, expertise and capacity to undertake public geoscience on such a scale across jurisdictions. It is not the core business of the private sector to undertake the large magnitude of risk and expense involved, and provincial and territorial surveys lack the financial, human and capital resources to do so.

According to this evaluation's interview data, the credibility of the geoscience data involved (and equal access principles) requires that an objective and recognized organization produce and release the data. NRCan was recognized as being the only organization in Canada possessing this quality.

Performance

As reported to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources in November 2011, GEM had generated the following outputs between 2008 and 2011:

  • Twenty-four regional geophysical surveys covering an area of 460,000 km2 (about the size of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia combined);
  • 424 publications including geophysical surveys, geological maps, open file releases of new geoscience maps and data published on NRCan's Internet site;
  • 284 presentations to industry-oriented events; and
  • 93 presentations of scientific results at professional societies and scientific associations.Footnote 16

In evaluating the performance of the GEM Program, it is necessary to recognize the length of the development cycle and place GEM performance within that timeframe.Footnote 17 At the time of the evaluation, the Program had been operating for only four years while the exploration and development cycle for energy and minerals is significantly longer and dependent on many factors.

While the evaluation was able to assess GEM's three immediate outcomes as described below, it is simply too early to measure the intermediate and final outcomes dealing with the viability of development and increased economic prosperity in Northern Canada.

A. Outcomes

According to the evidence gathered by this evaluation, GEM's achievement of outcomes as identified in the logic model (Annex A) can be summarized as follows:

  • Immediate Outcome 1: increased private sector exploration effectiveness and success rates in Northern Canada lead to discovery of new significant mineral and energy plays – partially achieved;
  • Immediate Outcome 2: exploration sector has access to enlarged pool of geoscience highly-qualified personnel – partially achieved;
  • Immediate Outcome 3: community decisions for resource development are informed by new GEM data and knowledge – partially achieved;
  • Intermediate Outcome: new resource discoveries are determined to be of economic interest and environmentally viable for development – too early to measure; and
  • Final Outcome: increased economic prosperity of Northern Canada through long- term private sector investment in resource development – too early to measure.

Immediate Outcome 1: Private Sector Exploration

It is too early to determine whether new exploration investment will lead to economically viable plays. There are many factors that will influence the final results of the GEM Program. These include world commodity price fluctuations, regulatory environments, public opinion, and transportation infrastructure.

There is a clear link between the release of GEM data and products, and subsequent exploration activity by private sector companies in many GEM project areas. A consistent finding in the interviews, survey and document/literature review is that industry supports GEM and recognizes that private sector exploration activities are more effective when good public geoscience information is available.

There are strong indications that the level of industry interest, exploration activity and investment would not have happened without the basic geoscience knowledge provided by GEM. However, the range of factors that affect exploration decisions make it challenging to make a direct cause and effect link. While not all GEM projects will generate immediate private sector interest, early evidence shows that several GEM projects have already had an impact on exploration investment and industry activity.

Annex C summarizes available information regarding specific industry activity or announcements related to ten GEM projects during the evaluation period. It shows that several GEM projects have contributed to significant investments in exploration. The eight GEM mineral projects are associated with exploration investment expenditures of $16.7 million. One of the two GEM energy projects is associated with a land bid totalling $103.0 million.Footnote 18 This information is indicative since not all investment information is publicly available.

Examples of the types of industry activity associated with individual GEM projects described in Annex C include:

  • The Melville Peninsula project where 8,000 km2 of claims were made since 2009 and up to $13 million in new exploration investments were planned to further explore the Tuktu iron ore discovery.Footnote 19 When Advanced Exploration Incorporated announced the permits, it credited GEM project information presented at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum (November 2009) as being “of particular interest.”Footnote 20
  • Results from GEM's 2009 field work in the Cumberland Peninsula area showed that the rocks there were older than previously believed. Attracted by the potential that those rocks could hold kimberlites, Peregrine Diamonds Limited staked one hundred percent of the area surveyed and has conducted subsequent fieldwork.Footnote 21
  • The Great Bear Project developed new protocols for interpreting data for Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG)Footnote 22 deposits and produced a short course to share knowledge with industry.Footnote 23 Exploration companies have begun to apply the new GEM protocols by mapping and interpreting their geophysical data using the GEM IOCG model.

Immediate Outcome 2: Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP)

GEM provided direct opportunities for work experience and academic research related to Canada's Northern geology. However, because the Program did not have a specific HQP target or detailed tracking, it is difficult to quantify the progress towards this outcome.

Up to 2011-12, GEM provided approximately $4 million for the development of HQP in support of students working on GEM projects. This included $2.6 million in salary costs under the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), the Co-operative Education Program, and the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) for 271 positions. In addition, RAP bursaries totalling $1.4 million supported 90 students. GEM also contributed to 37 NRCan/NSERC Collaborative Research Development grants to support Canadian academic researchers.

Although the number of students supported by GEM may appear small in absolute terms, it is significant relative to the university student population and forecasted labour requirements. For example, in 2011 the number of graduate students in earth sciences programs in Canadian universities totalled about 1,800.Footnote 24 Research conducted by the Mining Industry Human Resource Council (MiHR) indicated that by 2020 the territories will need 2,650 people in the mining industry. This total includes 74 geologists, geochemists and geophysicists and 62 geological and mineral technologists and technicians.Footnote 25

Immediate Outcome 3: Information for Community Decisions

Community decisions for resource development are informed by new GEM data and knowledge. The majority of interviewees described GEM as addressing the need for sustainable development of the North through supporting economic development, land use planning and decision-making, and building capacity to use geoscience information. For example, in the Cumberland Peninsula project, the project leader offered a course for community members on prospecting for diamonds to assist them in making informed land use decisions.Footnote 26 The Program also addressed community requests for incorporation of local knowledge in topographical maps.

The surficial aspect of the Remote Predictive Mapping (RPM) project identifies and provides volumetric data for glacial features such as eskersFootnote 27 and beaches, which are important sources of aggregate for the construction of runways, roads and drilling platforms that support exploration and future development activities. Land roads are expected to become increasingly important to sustaining and developing the Northern economy as climate change shortens the period during which snow and ice roads can be used.Footnote 28

According to some NRCan GEM Program interviewees, the Mineral Resource Assessment (MRA) component of the RPM project is used to assist in the assessments performed for land-use decision-making, such as those conducted by Parks Canada.Footnote 29

B. Unanticipated Outcomes

GEM has confirmed the need for governments and companies to have social licence to operate in Northern Canada. Social licence refers to the need to have the support of community leaders (e.g., Aboriginal elders) for projects to be successful in the North, even if they are carried out in locations away from the communities themselves.

The Qikiqtani Inuit Association received a court injunction to stop seismic testing (a research project that involved GEM) in Lancaster Sound in August 2010. The Lancaster Sound injunction was an unanticipated negative outcome that, according to interviewees, influenced the energy sector's calculations when deciding to pursue exploration activities. This experience increased the importance that the GEM Program placed on community engagement and consultation.

C. Economy and Efficiency

GEM is a national program that secures its human resources within the different components of the Earth Sciences Sector, including staff in the regional GSC offices (i.e., Vancouver, Sidney, Calgary, Québec and Halifax). The Program has adapted many cost-saving practices and has addressed some project management issues by modifying the role and responsibilities of the GEM Coordination Office (i.e., the creation of positions for a communications officer, an engagement officer and financial officers).

There remain some areas for improvement in project management processes including:

  • administration of Collaborative Research and Development grants,Footnote 30 and specifically the timeliness of transfers;
  • procurement;
  • project management tools;
  • roles and responsibilities (i.e., science/technical/management/administrative mix); and
  • more proactive communication of results (e.g., ability for companies to register for email notifications of results, increased attendance at conferences).

GEM used some services provided by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and NRCan's Shared Services Office (SSO). GEM interviewees reported frequent turnover of staff in these centralized groups leading to disruptions due to unfamiliarity with Northern conditions. Cases were reported by NRCan interviewees where contracts to support summer field camps were put in place only at the last possible moment and, on two occasions, only by using emergency contracting procedures. It was noted that the lack of an overarching procurement plan contributed to this situation because project requirements were identified on a project-by-project basis as they were defined by individual projects. As well, procurement service standards were not communicated effectively between the SSO and GEM personnel and therefore could not be understood or followed.

GEM is required to procure analytical services from external laboratories (a core element of the Program) by contracting through PWGSC. Unacceptable delays in procuring the required services were noted. These delays impacted program delivery and also provided the possibility of halting the academic progression of the students involved. Academic interviewees reported using their own laboratories to carry out such activities out of concern for the students who had collected the samples because these students were scheduled to graduate before the samples could be processed through the mechanism available to the Program.

The context for geo-mapping the Canadian landmass has evolved, and the provincial, territorial and federal geological surveys are faced with new challenges (e.g., community engagement, new technologies such as Remote Predictive Mapping). This has impacted how GEM should organize itself, including roles and responsibilities, and the human resource competencies it requires. For example, GEM hired a community engagement specialist mid-way through the Program to support project leaders and to strengthen its community engagement activities.

For an 18-month period, the Program coordinator position was filled by a person on assignment. This had an impact on program management continuity. In addition, project management processes changed repeatedly during a two-year period, impeding consistent and comparable documentation of project activities, outputs, and results throughout that period.

Several NRCan GEM Program interviewees reported that hiring authority was given to divisional directors so that GEM requirements could be prioritized with divisional and overall GSC requirements. NRCan GEM Program interviewees unanimously stated that GEM hiring had not occurred as planned.

The Program is finding cost-effective ways of working (e.g., utilizing the Polar Continental Shelf Program for logisticsFootnote 31) and developing cost-effective horizontal enabling technologies (i.e., Remote Predictive Mapping). In addition, aerial surveys are contracted to industry and, as of December 2011, the Program had spent approximately $24 million on these surveys, or almost 33 percent of all planned expenditures to March 2012. The Program accelerated spending on aerial surveys in response to a severe downturn in the industry in 2009-10, and was able to obtain below-market prices for the aerial survey work as a result.

There were several relevant comments related to management processes that were collected through the industry survey. Some respondents focused on the need for quicker and more proactive distribution of information by the Program. Key suggestions included email notifications for recently published material, and making GEM scientists available at relevant conferences to make industry more aware of available information and to help them to better understand it.

The Program records all outputs and tracks press releases, web analytics, and industry investment in GEM project areas. The Program assesses high-priority areas for study using performance information (outputs, industry and community interest) among other factors. The Program is on track, producing significant outputs and managing funds as forecasted with a funding lapse of only four percent to date.

There are areas for improvement in project management formats and tools. The review of the documentation reveals that three different project planning templates have been used in the four years of GEM. Changing formats make year-to-year project monitoring difficult and can therefore affect planning. It may also represent an unnecessary burden on project leaders and other staff as they have to learn new methods of project planning and reporting and respond to unanticipated reporting requirements.

The Program introduced project managers to help alleviate the financial and administrative requirements on the scientists, but based on evidence collected during the evaluation, the impact is perceived as being mixed. Some NRCan GEM Program interviewees stated that the introduction of the project managers had been very helpful in reducing the workload of project leaders. Others expressed concern that project leaders retained fiscal responsibility while losing the ability to manage finances.

RECOMMENDATIONS, MANAGEMENT RESPONSES AND ACTION PLANS
Recommendation Management Response and Action Plan Responsible Official/ Sector (target date)
1. NRCan should strengthen the role and responsibilities of the GEM Coordination Office in order to address project management issues by:

a. continuing to develop project management approaches to enable research scientists to focus on research activities, yet still provide their input/insight into project planning and implementation; and

b. implementing consistent routine reporting practices and tracking financial and technical performance against planned results;
Accepted. The GEM Coordination Office (GCO) is fully operational.

&b. As a result of the lessons learned as well as recommendations of the recent GEM Audit, project management processes have been developed and implemented. Project managers deal exclusively with financial and administrative responsibilities and project leaders (i.e. scientists) focus on science. Standardized templates are now in place and provide a framework for consistent reporting and tracking of both financial and non-financial performance.

Action: Project information is being gathered using the template designed by the GCO. In addition a database is being developed (by August 1, 2012), populated (by October 31, 2012) and will be completed by March 31, 2013. Project plans and budgets will continue to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis throughout fiscal year 2012-13.

As a follow up to the GEM Audit, a dashboard was created to document progress on the key activities. This dashboard is provided monthly to the accountable DG as well as to the ADM on a bi-annual basis (October 2012 and March 2013) in fiscal year 2012-13.
ADM, ESS

(March 31, 2013)
c. working in collaboration with NRCan's Shared Services Office (SSO) to develop and implement an annual procurement plan, based on shared best practices, that addresses the reality of doing business in Northern Canada and that identifies a dedicated SSO staff member who understands Northern issues. Over the last four years, SSO and the GEM Program have gained valuable experience with respect to the challenges of doing business in Northern Canada and have successfully worked together to resolve numerous issues. As a result, a list of contractors and suppliers is being developed and will be available for possible future Northern requirements.

Action: Following the 2012 field season, GEM staff will meet with SSO to discuss the experiences and challenges of procurement in the North and develop a formal procurement plan for future Northern procurement requirements.
ADM, ESS

(March 31, 2013)
d. developing, implementing and managing a formal hiring plan to ensure effective management functions; the GEM hiring plan should be incorporated into the sector HR plans to better enable the Program to organize itself, clarify roles and responsibilities, and ensure that the requisite HR competencies are in place; and The GEM hiring plan is a key component of the annual Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) Staffing Plan, which in turn is incorporated into the ESS Annual Staffing Plan. The hiring plan is prepared on an annual basis, reviewed and approved by GSC senior management.

Action:GCO will document decision making and updates to the approved GEM hiring plan. GCO will report progress/update status of positions on the GEM hiring plan quarterly to GSC DGO.

There is no additional hiring planned for GEM; however, a structured approach is being developed by the GSC this fiscal year, with quarterly HR reports provided by programs and divisions to DGO.
ADM, ESS

(March 31, 2013)
e. improving the administration of Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grants, particularly with a view to ensuring that payments are transferred within the agreed timelines. Of the eight CRD grants distributed to recipients, the majority were processed in a timely manner with payments being made within agreed timelines. However, the timing of distribution of grant funding between NRCan and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) payment schedules was not aligned, in one case, causing a disconnect in the timing of payments from both funding groups. In another case, miscommunication between NRCan and NSERC on the conditions of grant funding resulted in a delay in the Department's internal review process.

Action:Subsequent to the renewal of the Department's Class Transfer Payment Authority, in April 2012, NRCan is now authorized to provide multi-year grants. This development, coupled with adjustments to the NSERC-NRCan review and approval process, will better allow NRCan to make grant payments at the same timing and frequency as those of NSERC.

Should CRD grant funding be available in the future, multi-year grants will be established, providing NRCan with greater flexibility to more closely match the NSERC payment schedule. Any grant funding will be provided based on NRCan service delivery models developed by the Department's Centre of Expertise for Grants and Contributions, and standards currently being developed for NRCan programs.
ADM, ESS

(March 31, 2013)
2. NRCan should better articulate the role that GEM is intended to play in addressing the shortage of highly qualified personnel (HQP) by including specific HQP targets for the Program. Accepted.Despite a lack of specific targets being identified at the outset of the Program as identified in the GEM evaluation, much progress has been made in the hiring of students with an expertise in GEM-related activities.

In addition to the approximately $4 million invested by GEM up to 2011-12 for the Federal Student Work Experience Program, the Co-operative Education Program, the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) salary and RAP bursary students, project plans for 2012-13 indicate that 56 additional students will be hired.

Over the course of the Program, collaborative research activities were developed with 34 institutions (colleges, universities, technical schools) and over 80 university professors within Canada and internationally.

Action:At the outset of GEM, no targets for HQP were established since there was no way to measure what realistic numbers should be and what the capacity of universities had to produce HQP. Through more consistent monitoring, the GSC has gained an understanding of how GEM has had an impact on training and development of HQP. This will be used as the base line for establishing future HQP targets for ESS programs.
ADM, ESS

(October 31, 2012: data gathered)

(December 31, 2012: analysis completed)
3. NRCan should clarify the program objective with respect to the role of community engagement and developing appropriate strategies and approaches. Accepted.A full-time engagement coordinator is fully dedicated to GEM Program activities. This position supports the efforts of project leaders in engagement and coordinates with federal and territorial governments and other experts. Based on advice from the Advisory Group of Northerners (AGN), along with lessons learned over the course of the last four years, engagement is being conducted in a much more efficient and effective manner.

We have developed a much more rigorous and comprehensive approach to engagement based on previous experience and advice.

Action:The GSC is developing a Northern engagement strategy that will contribute to the effective delivery of GSC programs by standardizing processes for, and giving guidance on Aboriginal engagement in Canada's North and providing leadership to GSC projects and programs.

GEM is also working on a lessons learned document that will be used to guide any future engagement requirements for ESS.

GEM will continue its dialogue with the AGN and will report to the ADM in December 2012. By the end of the Program, the GEM coordinator will deliver recommendations on training, lessons learned and best practices, documentation for engagement protocols, and a Northern engagement strategy.
ADM, ESS

(February 2013: recommendations on training; lessons learned; best practices)

(March 31, 2013: engagement protocols; Northern engagement strategy)
4. Building on its current dissemination activities, NRCan should improve Program reach and communication of results to industry (e.g., listing objectives of all projects in the Program, providing email notifications of project results with links to comprehensive Program web page, and effective attendance at industry conferences). Accepted. During the last two years of GEM, GSC and Mapping Information Branch (MIB) have been working collaboratively through the GEM knowledge management component of the Program to improve the communication of Program reach and results to stakeholders.

GEOSCAN, the bibliographic reference for the Earth Sciences Sector, provides an RSS feed service which automatically notifies subscribers of new available products. Project web pages have been adapted so that they are user friendly, informative, and include a link to GEOSCAN.

Action:The 'GEM Compendium CD' delivers an interactive list of GEM publications. The compendium is regularly updated and distributed at open houses and selected conferences. With completion of the GEM Program, a final version of the compendium will be made available via GEOSCAN for download.

In preparation for future programming activities, MIB and GSC will continue to work collaboratively to identify and understand stakeholder needs.
ADM, ESS

(March 31, 2013)

1.0 Introduction and Background

This is an evaluation report of the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) Program of the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).Footnote 32 The GEM Program began in 2008-09 with an initial budget of $100 million. This evaluation covers the period 2008-09 to 2011-12, including expenditures of approximately $86.1 million.

1.1 Introduction

The objective of the GEM Program is to provide a modern, regional-scale, geological knowledge base in Canada's territories to the minimum level needed for effective private sector exploration.Footnote 33

Without publicly accessible, reliable geological knowledge, industry risks spending its money in areas of low potential, or using inappropriate strategies. The GEM initiative is intended to update Northern geological knowledge to the level that industry needs to be more effective in its exploration efforts.Footnote 34 This, in turn, would ideally result in stable, long-term investment in resource development, thereby supporting increased economic prosperity for Northern Canada.

The GEM Program is also intended to work with the provincial and territorial governments to fill critical gaps in the knowledge base needed to increase the effectiveness of exploration investment in the provinces and territories.

Surging global demand and high commodity prices are believed to provide an unprecedented opportunity for Northerners to realize economic and social benefits from resource development. To become more prosperous, sustainable and self-reliant, these communities need enduring private sector investment that creates new businesses and meaningful employment. In Northern Canada, energy and mineral production are the industries believed to be most likely to provide such opportunities.Footnote 35

To that end, mapping is the lifeblood of exploration. It provides the basic data used by industry to determine whether to invest in further exploration (e.g., oil, gas, diamonds, copper, gold, etc.). Canada's North is to a large extent unmapped – for example, adequate geological knowledge to support resource exploration exists for only about 27 percent of Nunavut and the NWT. The economic well-being of Canada's North depends not only on development of basic scientific data (e.g., mapping), but also on the establishment of a wide range of related conditions essential to economic development including education of its people, infrastructure (e.g., transportation), provision of services, and equipment.

2.0 Program Profile

2.1 General Description

The purpose of GEM is to provide the public geoscience knowledge base needed to support increased economic prosperity of Northern Canada through stable, long-term investment in resource development. GEM is intended to do this by providing the public geoscience knowledge base required for investment and development decisions by the private sector and Northerners in general. The GEM Program consists of three components: GEM-Energy; GEM-Minerals; and GEM-Knowledge. Delivery of the GEM Program is based on a range of projects carried out in areas prioritized using the following criteria:

  1. the adequacy of existing geological knowledge;
  2. territorial and provincial regional development priorities;
  3. local community perspectives on economic development; and
  4. industry priorities for exploration strategies and investment.Footnote 36

The over-riding criterion for project prioritization is its likelihood of advancing GEM's outcomes. The GEM Logic Model is found in Annex A.

The exploration industry constantly faces the same questions: “Why do some areas appear to have all the right geology, but still lack known mineral deposits? Is the difference in the rocks, or is it in our knowledge and understanding?” Exploration companies, accountable to return benefit to their shareholders, do not have the resources to build the Canada-wide geoscience knowledge base required to answer these questions and thus enhance the effectiveness of exploration activity across the country. For this, they depend on public geoscience provided by governments, thereby conferring a competitive advantage to those countries and jurisdictions that do so.Footnote 37

To help answer these questions, the GEM Program is predicated on a mix of site-specific and thematic activities that include:

  • community-level consultation and information sessions;
  • compilation of, and adding value to, available existing data including industry data where available;
  • re-analysis of existing sample sets;
  • remote predictive mapping;
  • new broad-scale geological/geophysical/geochemical mapping;
  • new strategically targeted geological mapping;
  • exploration method development; and
  • data management and delivery.Footnote 38

Field crews include federal and territorial employees, university professors and students, industry experts, and local employees.

All of these activities were expected to contribute to building better geological knowledge key to industry and key to informed local resource development decision-making. Given that the formation, concentration and preservation of different commodities are subject to different geological influences, this translates into a commodity-specific approach.

The responsibility to provide public geoscience is shared among federal, provincial and territorial surveys under the terms of the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord (IGA), which was first signed by ministers in 1996 and most recently renewed in 2012. The IGA sets out the respective roles of NRCan's Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), on the one hand, and the provincial and territorial surveys, on the other, and also establishes principles and mechanisms of cooperation among these organizations. Standard operating procedures for the delivery of public geoscience have evolved over time. It is now a routine for the GSC to closely collaborate with its territorial and provincial counterparts, other government departments and the private sector.

2.2 Authorities

The authority for GEM is provided by The Department of Natural Resources Act, S.C. 1994, and the Resources and Technical Surveys Act, R.S.C. 1985.

2.3 Governance, Roles and Responsibilities

The Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for NRCan's Earth Sciences Sector has overall accountability for GEM. However, the governance structure was adapted during the period being evaluated.

Initially, the GSC's directors general (DGs) had responsibility for GEM implementation delegated from the ADM, and were accountable for setting strategic directions and for balancing the priorities for GEM implementation.Footnote 39> In 2011, the governance structure was changed, and GEM became the responsibility of the Director General, Central and Northern Canada Branch (DG-CNCB).Footnote 40

Advising the DG-CNCB is the GEM Board of Directors which includes the ESS directors responsible for minerals and energy business lines and operational management of the GSC and ESS, NRCan.Footnote 41 Reporting to the DG level, the GEM coordinator has overall responsibility of GEM Program elements. Program element development is the responsibility of the GEM Program managers.Footnote 42

The ADM is advised annually on the direction and performance of all ESS geoscience programs, including GEM, by the GSC Advisory Committee. The National Geological Surveys Committee (NGSC) provides advice on strategic priorities and inter-jurisdictional issues to the DG level. Provincial and Territorial Technical Advisory Committees provide technical and scientific advice on program element design and overall GEM composition to the GEM coordinator and the Program managers.Footnote 43

The ADM also receives advice and strategic guidance on the management and delivery of GEM from the Advisory Group of Northerners.

2.4 Resources

The total initial budget for GEM over the five-year period from 2008-09 through 2012-13 was $100 million. Table 1 shows the total funding allocations by vote. The vast majority of expenditures fall under operating and maintenance (i.e., salaries, employee benefits, procurement and corporate services costs). Given the small amount of grant and contribution funding provided (less than $2.5 million) delivery was to be under the authority of NRCan's Class Grants and Contributions Program.

Table 1: Resource Profile for GEM Initiative, 2008-09 to 2012-13 (millions $)

Vote 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Total
Vote 1
(Operating and Maintenance)
11.8 21.6 21.4 21.4 21.4 97.5
Vote 5
(Grants and Contributions)
0.2 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 2.5
Total 12.0 22.0 22.0 22.0 22.0 100.0

 

Source: GEM Results-based Management and Accountability Framework, 2008, p. 7.

 

As indicated in Table 2, actual and planned GEM expenditures for 2008-09 to 2011-12 totalled $86.1 million. It should be noted that $6.8 million was re-profiled into 2009-10 from 2011-12 and 2012-13 as part of a plan to advance aerial surveys. To date, the GEM Program has lapsed just over two million dollars in funding.

The funding announced for GEM in Budget 2008 was focused on the territories 75 percent, with up to 25 percent of funding going to provinces on a 50/50 matched funding basis. The planned ratio has been surpassed as approximately 90 percent of funds have been allocated to the three territories.

A full financial overview of GEM expenditures, actual and planned, is found in Annex B.

Table 2: GEM Expenditures, 2008-09 to 2011-12 ($ millions)

Type of Expenditure 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12(P) Total
Coordination 4.4 6.0 1.1 1.8 13.3
Projects 5.7 20.0 18.3 15.3 59.3
Accelerated Geophysical Surveys -- 6.8 -- -- 6.8
Corporate Services and Employee Benefits 1.0 2.3 1.9 1.5 6.7
Total 11.1 35.1 21.3 18.6 86.1

Source: GEM Program Documentation. P = planned

3.0 Evaluation Approach and Methodologies

3.1 Evaluation Objectives and Scope

This evaluation covers the period 2008-09 to 2011-12 and was conducted between the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012. The objectives of the evaluation are to:

  • assess the relevance and performance of the GEM Program in meeting its objectives; and
  • make recommendations for consideration by NRCan program and senior management.

Relevance

  1. Is there a continued need for the Program? (Assessment of the extent to which the Program continues to address a demonstrable need and is responsive to the needs of Canadians.)
  2. Alignment with Government of Canada (GoC) priorities. (Assessment of the linkages between program objectives and federal government priorities and departmental strategic outcomes.)
  3. Alignment with federal roles and responsibilities. (Assessment of the role and responsibilities for the federal government in delivering the GEM Program.)

Performance: Effectiveness

  1. Achievement of expected outcomes. (Assessment of progress towards immediate, intermediate and ultimate outcomes.)

Performance: Efficiency

  1. Assessment of resource utilization in relation to the production of outputs and progress toward expected outcomes.

3.2 Evaluation Methodologies

For this evaluation, data collection consisted of the following elements:

  • document and literature review;
  • interviews;
  • online stakeholder survey; and
  • case studies.

A technical report was developed for each line of evidence that reviewed the evidence and provided findings specific to that line of evidence. The findings from each line of evidence then were compiled to identify overall preliminary findings by evaluation issue. Preliminary findings were presented to GEM Program management and, subsequently, the evaluation report was drafted and presented for final approval.

Document and Literature Review
More than 100 documents were identified and reviewed. These documents provided a comprehensive record of the Program including background information, terms of reference, contracts, financial information, internal and external reports and presentations, program updates and other relevant documents. Media articles and relevant web sites were also reviewed. A literature review was conducted to answer specific questions on evaluation issues.

Interviews
The evaluation included 60 interviews in support of the general evaluation and a further 26 in support of the case studies. The general interview strategy was to obtain information from a representative range of GEM Program stakeholders from all sectors.

An initial set of five interviews was held with key evaluation stakeholders conducted to elicit general strategic input by providing input on evaluation issues, data sources and case studies. These interviews also identified areas of particular interest to program management.

The general interviews were conducted using an interview guide tailored to the stakeholder group being interviewed (e.g., federal government, industry stakeholder, provincial/territorial government, Aboriginal and Northerner stakeholders). Interviews were conducted in the official language of choice of the interviewee. The interviews were scheduled through email with a copy of the appropriate interview guide attached, at least one week previous to the interview date. The interviews were conducted either in person or by phone.

The results of the evaluation were captured in interview notes that were then analysed, and the responses sorted by evaluation issue and sub-question. This information aggregated across all groups of interviewees formed the basis of the interview technical report.

Online Stakeholder Survey
The purpose of the survey was to reach a range of private sector stakeholders (i.e., energy industry and minerals industry) in order to assess the relevance of the Program to their needs and priorities as well as its effectiveness in addressing those needs. This information would be difficult to effectively gather by other methods.

The survey questions were incorporated into a web-based tool (SurveyMonkey) and were distributed to targeted industry stakeholders. The selected companies were the same 36 companies that participated in an on-line industry survey conducted by the GEM Program in 2010 (and were therefore familiar with the GEM Program). Twelve companies completed the survey (33 percent response rate).

Case Studies
A number of issues that could encompass each of the three GEM components (Energy, Minerals and Knowledge), Northern community engagement, and industry benefits and support were identified as the topics for the case studies.

Case Study Rationale
Sverdrup Basin – salt domes
  • Representative of the Energy component
Chesterfield Inlet – aerial survey for gold
  • Representative of the Minerals component
Remote Predictive (Smart) mapping
  • Representative of the Knowledge component
Cumberland Peninsula – multiple metals
  • Representative of Northern community engagement
Melville Peninsula – multiple minerals
  • Representative of industry benefits

The specific topics of the case studies were confirmed during the interview process. Case study selection criteria included:

  • representativeness of each of the GEM Program components;
  • representativeness of the GEM Program stakeholder groups, including Northern communities; and
  • availability of data.

3.3 Evaluation Limitations

Document and Literature Review: The GEM Program made a considerable effort to consolidate all program documentation in a SharePoint directory and database which facilitated the document review. The large volume of documents, however, presented challenges in identifying those documents that were most relevant to the evaluation issues. The documents found in the directory were often not dated or in draft form which also complicated assessment of their relevance. Limitations with respect to the literature review included obtaining literature published in the last five years and relevant to the evaluation issues.

Interviews: By their nature, interviews can be biased. The bias is mitigated by using multiple lines of evidence to corroborate interview data and increase the confidence level of conclusions. In addition, interviewees were selected from various populations (e.g., industry, Northerners and Aboriginals, government) to provide a wider set of viewpoints.

Interviewees included industry representatives and NRCan Program staff who were directly involved in the efforts to achieve objectives. Questions related to effectiveness and efficiency could result in a bias from the interviewees should they fail to objectively consider their efforts. This was mitigated by interviewing a large cross-section of the Program and collecting/analyzing program data.

The GSC has a long history and the GEM Program is a complex undertaking. Some interviewees' interaction with GEM was limited to certain project activities, and therefore could only provide a very limited perspective on some evaluation issues. This was mitigated by interviewing a broad cross-section of interviewees and developing a range of case studies.

Online Stakeholder Survey: There are limitations to any survey. Some of the key limitations may be poor survey construction and administration, the answer choices provided on a survey may not be an accurate reflection of how the participants truly feel, and/or response rates can bias the results of a survey. The survey was designed to address these potential limitations by: i) allowing respondents to submit comments in most areas of the survey; and ii) sending reminders to increase the survey's response rate. Further, the survey is one of four lines of evidence which inform the evaluation findings.

Case Studies: The case studies involved interviews which had some inherent bias. Community leaders, academics and other non-NRCan staff interviewed for the various case studies were not often in a position to comment on broader GEM Program objectives. Their input was specific to their involvement in a particular project (e.g., community engagement elements of the Cumberland project, Remote Predictive Mapping methodology development activities of the RPM project, etc.).

To overcome these limitations, responses related to relevance, effectiveness and efficiency were reconciled with a review of relevant documents to ensure that a complete perspective was obtained and to ensure that reported actions were supported by documentation.

4.0 Evaluation Findings – Relevance

4.1 Evaluation Issue 1: Is There a Continuing Need for the Program?

Evaluation Issue Lines of Evidence Assessment
Is there a continuing need for the Program? Document and literature review, interviews, survey, and case studies. Yes, the GEM Program continues to address a need – producing public geoscience to facilitate energy and mineral exploration and land-use decision making that supports sustainable economic growth in the North.

 

Summary: The GEM Program is intended to address the need for public geoscience in the North, in order to contribute to social and economic growth. The Program is addressing those needs as evidenced by the uptake of its products by the private sector and Northern communities. However, there are still large areas in the North where there is insufficient geoscience information to help guide effective private sector investment in exploration. The long-term outcomes of GEM will realistically take 10 to 20 years to achieve.

 

4.1.a. What needs are the GEM Program and its components (Energy, Minerals and Knowledge) addressing?

Summary: The GEM Program is intended to address the need for public geoscience in the North, in order to contribute to social development (training, employment) and economic growth. More specifically:

  • GEM delivery addressed development of highly-qualified personnel;
  • GEM provided geoscience for resource management, land use planning and other activities; and
  • GEM provided the geoscience knowledge base which makes exploration more cost-effective (reduce risk by improving knowledge).

The needs that are being addressed by the GEM Program are contained in the Program's logic model (see Annex A) and summarized in Table 3 below:

Table 3 – GEM Outcomes

Immediate Increase private sector exploration effectiveness and success rates in Northern Canada lead to discovery of new significant mineral and energy plays.Footnote 44
Exploration sector has access to enlarged pool of geoscience HQP.
Community decisions for resource development are informed by new GEM data and knowledge.
Intermediate New resource discoveries are determined to be of economic interest and environmentally viable for development.
Final Increased economic prosperity of Northern Canada through long-term private sector investment in resource development.

Source: GEM Logic Model 2009.

There is a direct and fundamental relationship between the quality and relevance of the geoscience knowledge base and exploration activity.Footnote 45 The quality and extent of the geoscience knowledge base will strongly influence a company's decision to invest. Government geoscience gives a competitive edge in the global investment climate. The provision of public geoscience improves the knowledge base, thereby reducing the risk associated with exploration and making exploration investment by the private sector more cost-effective. GEM continues to address this need by producing geoscience information which is accessible to the private sector and communities.

The GEM Program supports the development of highly-qualified personnel by providing them with the opportunity to gain work experience in the North. The GEM Program has invested approximately $4 millionFootnote 46 on students through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) and the Research Affiliate Program (RAP). The GEM Program also supports students and academics through the NRCan-National Science Engineering and Research Council (NSERC) Collaborative Research Development Program, which co-funds geoscience projects in the North with industry partners and academics.

The majority of interviewees described GEM as addressing the need for sustainable development of the North through supporting economic development, land use planning and decision-making, and building capacity to use geoscience information. They identified the need for geoscience information to facilitate exploration for minerals and hydrocarbons in the North. The majority of interviewees also stated that GEM was needed because the existing quality of geoscience in the North was neither of sufficient quality nor complete enough for industry use. Given that in the North, the federal government has responsibility (through AANDC) for lands and resources in the NWT and Nunavut (but not in the Yukon since devolution in 2003),Footnote 47 these interviewees felt that there was a strong need for the NRCan GEM Program.

The industry survey indicated strong support of the private sector for the GEM Program. All of the respondents said that GEM was needed, and 80 percent strongly agreed that GEM was contributing to the understanding of the geology of Northern Canada.

The case studies indicated that the respective GEM activities and projects were well aligned to addressing needs. In both the Cumberland and Melville Peninsula case studies, geoscience knowledge products produced by these projects had been well received by the private sector and communities. The Remote Predictive Mapping project is an innovative technique which was developed and utilized to assist future mapping of the North from an operational as well as cost savings point of view.

4.1.b. To what extent are the identified needs being met?

Summary: GEM is addressing needs – there are numerous documented success stories of GEM information being utilized by industry, interest from communities, and data demonstrating the support for the development of HQP.

GEM is addressing identified needs, and there are numerous documented success stories of GEM information being utilized by industry, interest from communities and data demonstrating the support for the development of HQP. GEM has produced a significant quantity of outputs. In November, 2011, the ADM for Earth Sciences Sector at NRCan presented to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources stating the following:

  • 24 aerial geophysical surveys completed covering an area of approximately 460,000 km2 (about the size of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia combined) – at a cost of approximately $24 million;
  • 424 publications (e.g., maps, open files, publications, etc.) produced;
  • more than 284 presentations were made to industry-oriented events; and
  • 93 presentations of scientific results were made at professional societies and scientific associations.Footnote 48

Most interviewees of all categories felt that there was an ongoing record of GEM success that had been documented. GEM Program staff felt that industry was very supportive of the GEM Program.

There are documented examples of how information produced by GEM projects is being used by industry and communities (see Section 5).

In terms of industry, a previous surveyFootnote 49 of private sector partners conducted by GEM provided numerous examples of how industry was utilizing the information produced by GEM. One typical representative comment demonstrated how GEM was addressing its needs:

We are very familiar with the GEM Program as several of its projects have been carried out in areas of our interest. The geoscientific information that has been generated by these programs has been of tremendous benefit to our exploration activities. Recently, I have attended workshops at the Geological Survey of Canada in Ottawa for the overall GEM-Diamonds and Cumberland Peninsula projects. These comprehensive geological and geophysical programs provide valuable data to support our exploration activities such as basement age dating which assists in identifying prospective terrains and the mapping of glacial deposits for planning till sampling campaigns.

Other comments from the GEM in-house survey included:

The March 2010 release of airborne geophysical data obtained under GEM made a direct contribution to the project area in which we were active”. The respondent also added that: “inasmuch as the exploration industry suffered a pronounced lack of funding in late 2008 through 2009 (at the time when GEM was ramping up), it is conceivable that GEM data would provide renewed exploration interest and find most immediate use in far-flung regions when exploration funding returns in 2010 through 2011. In this sense, the GEM data may experience higher use than would ordinarily have been the case.

The GSC geological mapping, GSC silt surveys, and the GSC airborne surveys have led directly to the Yukon Exploration mining boom, and the Yukon exploration dollars will be around $150 million for the 2010 field season.

Even if the information provided by the Program does not immediately result in increased exploration activity, it is still deemed as useful. Resource development generally occurs over a very long period of time, and many industry stakeholders hold that perspective. Previously produced information is often re-examined as new circumstances arise. As an example, during the evaluation period, there was considerable volatility in the commodity price of gas. The Sverdrup Basin project was focused on oil and gas exploration at that time. As noted in the Sverdrup Basin case study, one interviewee contextualized the work of GEM very well:

Given gas prices and given oil sensitivities, no matter what you do, there is risk. You may or may not discover something. If you discover gas and gas prices are low, then so what – it may not be used for 10 years but might be in 20. But things are volatile and so is the world economy – it is better to know what eggs are in your basket now, and you need to know where you stand and decrease uncertainty.

4.1.c. Are the needs continuing? Have new needs developed and, if so, how are they being addressed?

Summary: The needs are continuing as not all work is complete – there are still areas to be mapped. More specifically:

  • GEM's socio-economic drivers (e.g., need for sustainable economic development in the North, etc) are unchanged;
  • achievement of GEM long-term outcomes: development of resources using GEM data can take 10 to 20 years; and
  • data gaps exist: in large areas of the North, insufficient public geoscience information exists to attract and guide effective private sector investment in exploration.

The needs remain as there are large areas in the North where there is insufficient geoscience information to help guide effective private sector investment in exploration.

Figure 1 demonstrates current GEM project areas, and the remaining areas where there is insufficient geoscience knowledge. At the same time, the final results of geoscience information that is produced by the GEM Program now may not be realized for 10 to 20 years because of the long resource management development cycle.Footnote 50

On a larger scale, the main socio-economic drivers for the GEM Program remain unchanged – there is still a need for sustainable economic development in the North.

Figure 1 – GEM Project Areas

Figure 1 – GEM Project Areas

Source: GEM Coordination Office.
[Text version - Figure 1]

A range of industry stakeholders testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources in October and November 2011,Footnote 51 regarding the continued need and relevance of GEM. An example of witness statements included:

The Geological Survey of Canada does mapping. A lot of areas in the Northwest Territories have had very little mapping. Geological initiatives help us find mines. They're of great assistance. We'd like to see pure scientific and geological initiatives that look at the potential for all commodities in a region. It's of great assistance to us in generating geological models for exploration.

The majority of interviewees from all stakeholder groups felt that the work was not yet complete, and the needs were continuing. The vast majority of NRCan GEM interviewees felt that although there had not been a change in the fundamental program needs, there had been a change in the emphasis of some aspects of the Program. For example, the expectation for meaningful engagement and dialogue with Northern communities had increased.

An example of a type of new need/concern encountered by GEM was described by an NRCan GEM interviewee. This interviewee described how a Northern community raised concerns about the importance of a local trail, sacred lands and of its past history with a particular mining project dating back 70 years. Their specific needs were taken into account during project planning and execution. Another example of a new need was provided by one NRCan GEM interviewee with respect to the incorporation of traditional knowledge into GEM activities. In this case, the result was the production of maps with traditional place names.

When asked if there is a continued need for GEM, the industry survey measured overwhelming support from the private sector with all respondents indicating a continued need. As one respondent commented, “As long as gaps in the geological knowledge exist for Canada's remote areas there is a strong need to gather the baseline data whether it is aero-geophysical, modern basement age dating or bedrock mapping.”

The case studies also support the continuing need for GEM, citing the continuing need for social and economic growth in the North and GEM's contribution to the Government of Canada's Northern Strategy.

4.1.d Who are the GEM Program stakeholders and has their number or nature changed since Program inception (2007)?

Summary: There has been no change in stakeholders, although the emphasis on Northern communities has grown since the start of the Program.

There has been no change in the composition of stakeholders related to the Program although the emphasis on Northern communities has increased since the start of the Program.

The document review and interviews identified the following stakeholders, in no particular order:

  • exploration and development companies, and their respective associations, in both minerals and energy;
  • Northern communities, individuals, local organizations and local suppliers;
  • supporting industries (e.g., aerial survey companies, outfitters, etc);
  • provincial and territorial governments and their respective departments (e.g., provincial geological surveys, etc);
  • non-government organizations (NGOs), such as Hunters and Trappers Associations, etc;
  • Inuit organizations (e.g., Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Kivalliq Inuit Association, Qikiqtani Inuit Association, etc.);
  • public in general;
  • universities and colleges;
  • other federal government departments (e.g., Aboriginal and Northern Development Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, the Canadian Northern Development Agency; and
  • international stakeholders (e.g., other geological surveys, universities, etc.).

Many NRCan GEM interviewees felt that the importance of stakeholders from Northern communities had increased considerably since the beginning of GEM. The promulgation of NRCan's Aboriginal Engagement and Consultation Guidebook, in January 2011, reflected the Department's commitment to Aboriginal consultation and Aboriginal engagement:

In all its engagement and consultation activities, it is important for the Department to prioritize relationship building, not just for its own relations with Aboriginal groups, but as part of its broader obligation as an element of the Crown, which has constitutional, ethical and social responsibilities to Canada's Aboriginal population and to all Canadians.

The importance of the social licenseFootnote 52 to operate, the level of engagement of communities and awareness of GEM activities was described as having increased and therefore requiring more dedicated planning and resources directed towards this group of stakeholders. For example, in the Cumberland Peninsula project, elders were taken to the summer camps and shown what was being done. As well, the project leader debriefed the two local communities on results following the two field seasons and ran a course for community members on prospecting for diamonds to assist them to make informed land use decisions.Footnote 53

All of the academic and NRCan GEM Program interviewees recognized Remote Predictive Mapping's value in providing improved basic geological information for areas in which little other information currently exists. Such knowledge could better inform exploration companies' decision-making for exploration activities. The surficial aspect of RPM identifies and provides volumetric data for glacial features such as eskersFootnote 54 and beaches which are important sources of aggregate for the construction of runways, roads and drilling platforms which support exploration and future development activities. Land roads are expected to become increasingly important to sustaining and developing the Northern economy as climate change shortens the period during which snow and ice roads can be used.Footnote 55

According to some NRCan GEM Program interviewees, the Mineral Resource Assessment component of the Remote Predictive Mapping project is used to assist in the assessments performed for land-use decision-making, such as those conducted by Parks Canada.Footnote 56

The increased focus on individual community engagement was questioned by a few external interviewees as these communities were only responsible for the land within their municipal boundaries, whereas much of the GEM Program's activities occurred outside of these local jurisdictions. Some felt that working collaboratively with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and other regional Inuit associations would be beneficial to the GEM Program.

4.2 Evaluation Issue 2: Is the Program consistent with government priorities and NRCan's strategic objectives?

Evaluation Issue Lines of Evidence Assessment
Is the Program consistent with government priorities and NRCan's strategic objectives. Document and literature review and interviews. Yes, GEM is consistent with government priorities, such as the Northern Strategy, and is aligned with NRCan's strategic objectives.

 

Summary: GEM is consistent with the federal Northern Strategy and the priority of establishing sustainable economic growth in the North. It is aligned with speeches from the Throne (2007, 2008) and supported by recent press releases by the Prime Minister's Office, in 2011. GEM is aligned with NRCan's Strategic Objective 1 – Economic Competitiveness, the mandate of the Geological Survey of Canada, and other NRCan priorities such as Advancing Sustainable Resource Development in the North.

 

The finding is based on evidence collected for the following sub-questions.

4.2.a. To what federal government priorities is the GEM Program linked?

Summary: GEM is consistent with the Northern Strategy and sustainable economic growth in the North. It is aligned with speeches from the Throne (2007, 2008) and supported by recent press releases by the PMO (2011).

The Prime Minister announced the establishment of GEM on August 26, 2008 with funding of $12 million for the first year, and $22 million in succeeding years, to total $100 million over five years.Footnote 57 Budget 2008 specifically provided $34 million over the first two years to NRCan to improve geological mapping or resource development through the GEM initiative.Footnote 58

The GEM initiative addresses part of the Government's priorities with respect to the North. The October 2007 Speech from the Throne committed the Government to bring forward, “an integrated Northern strategy focused on …promoting economic and social development.”Footnote 59GEM supports this by providing geoscience data to industry and other stakeholders, thereby supporting and promoting economic development in the North. The Northern Strategy continues to be a priority for the Government and has been cited in subsequent Speeches from the Throne.

With respect to interviews, the majority of NRCan GEM interviewees mentioned that the Government of Canada (GoC) had a jurisdiction and sovereignty agenda in the North which GEM supported. Some NRCan GEM interviewees commented that there was a Northern role for the GoC as some of the territories had more capacity than others (to support related activities).

A few NRCan GEM interviewees indicated that the North was both a government and a prime ministerial priority, and that GEM had been highlighted in press releases. The Prime Minister has visited the North annually, publicly supported its development, and praised the GEM Program in relation to the Meadowbanks Gold Mine.

4.2.b. To what strategic departmental objectives and priorities is the GEM Program linked?

Summary: The GEM Program is aligned with NRCan's Strategic Objective 1 – Economic Competitiveness, the mandate of the GSC, and other NRCan priorities such as Advancing Sustainable Resource Development in the North (2011-12 PAA and RPP).

In 2008, NRCan's first strategic objective was “Economic Development”; with the expected result that, “Canadians derive sustainable social and economic benefits from the assessment, development and use of energy, forest and mineral resources…” Program activities to support this outcome start with “economic opportunities for natural resources”, with the expected result of “competitive national and international markets, stable economic opportunity and investment in natural resources”. In 2011-12, GEM fell under the sub-activity of “Geoscience Stimulates Exploration of Energy and Minerals.”Footnote 60 The initial program documentation for GEM clearly linked the GEM Program to this sub-activity as well.

Advancing sustainable resource development in the North to help Canada realize the vast potential of the region's people and resources is a priority of NRCan, and the GEM Program supports and is consistent with that priority.Footnote 61

4.3 Evaluation Issue 3: Is there a legitimate, appropriate and necessary role for the federal government in the Program?

Evaluation Issue Lines of Evidence Assessment
Is there a legitimate, appropriate and necessary role for the federal government in the Program? Document and literature review, interviews, survey and case studies. Yes, there is a clear and appropriate role for the federal government in the provision of public geoscience in the North.

 

Summary: The Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord clearly defines federal and provincial roles and responsibilities and areas for cooperation and collaboration. Most mineral resources in Canada are public assets, and governments support the responsible development of these resources as being in the public interest. Because much of the geoscience information that underpins exploration is a public good, the provision of public geoscience to stimulate exploration is a key element of federal, provincial and territorial mining strategies.

The risk, cost and resources of carrying out this phase of geoscience render such activities as pre-competitive (i.e., benefits from delivering them cannot be captured by any one commercial entity, and thus there is no profit/commercial motivation for any private sector entity to provide them). In addition, no single company is known to possess the resources (human, financial, capital) to deliver GEM.

 

4.3. a. Should the Government of Canada be involved in providing the public geoscience knowledge base for areas of Northern Canada?

Summary: GEM is consistent with and supports achievement of federal government priorities and goals. It is also consistent with the role of the GSC, which is responsible for providing Canada with a comprehensive geoscience knowledge base that contributes to economic development, public safety and environmental protection. Most mineral resources in Canada are public assets, and governments support the responsible development of these resources. The provision of public geoscience to stimulate exploration is a key element of federal, provincial and territorial mining strategies.

The role of government in public geoscience is well documented and supported by stakeholders. The National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment, FPT Mines Ministers, the Conference Board of Canada, Canadian industry associations, Inuit associations, individual private companies and commodity experts in Canadian banks have all called for increased federal support for geo-mapping as a means of underpinning economic development.Footnote 62

In recent years, other countries, such as Australia, the U.S., Mexico and Mongolia, have invested heavily in updating their public geoscience to attract investment.

The vast majority of literature and documents reviewed support the view that governments have a role in the development and provision of geoscience data, due to the considerations that:

  • this data is needed to develop and implement public policy at the national and provincial levels (e.g., resource development; environmental protection; public health and safety; land use; trade; and infrastructure planning);
  • the nature of the GEM data is precompetitive, that is, it is of such a general nature that no one company could benefit from the knowledge without further development;
  • sufficient expertise, equipment and financial resources can only be found in the public sector; and
  • the expense and risk involved could not be borne by any one entity (i.e., company, university, or consortium).

All interviewees across all stakeholder groups agreed that there was a necessary and appropriate role for the Government of Canada in the delivery of the GEM Program. It was the general response that no other organization could deliver the GEM Program. A few interviewees, both federal and external, reported that they considered the Government of Canada as an honest broker and neutral party, in the provision of scientific data.

Industry respondents to the evaluation survey strongly agree (90 percent) that it is appropriate for the Government of Canada to be implementing GEM, although most think provincial and territorial surveys should also be involved.

The case studies also supported this finding. As an interviewee for the Sverdrup Basin case study noted:

This is exactly what the federal government should be doing – any country that has a vibrant scientific community can benefit greatly – this program is unique as it [Canada] is one of the countries that has such a vast area unexplored – so not to put money into basic research into that part of the country would be a crime.

Another interviewee from the Melville Peninsula case study noted:

Yes, the Government of Canada should be involved in GEM. As a land owner (the GoC) of 98 percent of the sub-surface and 80 percent of the surface [of Nunavut], the Government of Canada is responsible to provide the public with geoscience information.

4.3.b. Are there parties other than the Government of Canada that could deliver the GEM Program in whole or in part?

Summary: No other organization has the resources, expertise and capacity to undertake public geoscience on such a scale, across jurisdictions – it is not the core business of the private sector and provincial/territorial surveys lack the resources (e.g., financial, human, capital) to do so. The Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord recognizes and outlines the roles and responsibilities of both federal and provincial/territorial geological surveys, including areas of cooperation and collaboration.

There is a strong rationale for government involvement in providing basic geoscientific data. It is a 'public good' and has 'external' benefits that result in 'market failures' when provided by the private sector.Footnote 63 In addition, exploration companies do not have an incentive to perform broad regional geoscience for the benefit of the industry in general or for other stakeholders. When private companies generate regional geoscience knowledge, it is on a proprietary basis that is rarely released into the public domain.Footnote 64

The majority of interviewees stated that no one other organization could deliver the GEM Program. The majority of interviewees also stated that the scale and scope of the Program were 'large' and would be difficult for others, including universities or industry to undertake. As one NRCan GEM interviewee commented:

The Program requires a significant investment in human capital with knowledge of Northern geology. Industry often works at the local claim scale, not at the regional scale, and may lack the capacity to undertake a larger-scale program that encompasses the full range of minerals. There is also little incentive for industry to share information.

The Cumberland Peninsula case study indicated that there was no party better suited to carry out the Cumberland Project or the GEM Program than the Government of Canada, and no other party could perform the role on this scale and as inexpensively. Evidence from the case study showed that private industry was not interested in working to develop basic geoscience knowledge, to develop the scale of mapping that GEM projects produce nor did it have the capability to do so.

Some comments from interviews, case studies and the industry survey suggested that there could be room for greater involvement of provincial and territorial surveys. The GEM Program actively coordinates and cooperates with the provincial/territorial geological surveys in accordance with the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord, and as mentioned by one interviewee in the Melville Peninsula case study, there might be administrative obstacles for any deeper cooperation:

Yes, it is definitely part of the federal role, but there needs to be a way for territories to be more full partners – the challenge is that a lot of funding comes from Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINEDFootnote 65) – that funding is a big part of core funding for geological surveys – and SINED funding cannot be spent on a GEM project (that would be double dipping).Footnote 66

5.0 Evaluation Findings – Performance: Effectiveness

This evaluation defined and assessed outcomes of the GEM Program using outcomes defined in the GEM Logic Model found in Annex A and summarized in Table 3 of this report. To address the question of effectiveness, the evaluation focused on three evaluation questions, each with its own sub-questions:

  1. To what extent have intended outcomes been achieved as a result of the Program?
  2. Has industry interest in the GEM Program subject areas changed?
  3. Have there been unintended (positive or negative) outcomes?

5.1 Evaluation Issue 4: To what extent have intended outcomes been achieved as a result of the Program?

Evaluation Issue Lines of Evidence Assessment
To what extent have intended outcomes been achieved as a result of the Program? Document and literature review, interviews, survey and case studies. GEM has made significant progress towards achieving its immediate outcomes in a relatively short period of time. Mineral and energy resource development has a very long development cycle. Achievement of intermediate and final outcomes will take time, and there are many other factors that will influence the results.

 

Summary: Table 4 outlines the GEM outcomes, as per the GEM Logic Model, and provides an assessment of the Program's degree of achievement. While the evaluation was able to assess GEM's three immediate outcomes as described below, it is simply too early to measure the intermediate and final outcomes dealing with the viability of development and increased economic prosperity in Northern Canada.

 

Table 4 – GEM Outcome Status Summary as of April 2012

Outcome Status
Immediate Outcome 1: Increased private sector exploration effectiveness and success rates in Northern Canada lead to discovery of new significant mineral and energy plays Partially achieved
Immediate Outcome 2: Exploration sector has access to enlarged pool of geoscience HQP Partially achieved
Immediate Outcome 3: Community decisions for resource development are informed by new GEM data and knowledge Partially achieved
Intermediate Outcome 1: New resource discoveries are determined to be of economic interest and environmentally viable for development Too early to measure
Final Outcome: Increased economic prosperity of Northern Canada through long- term private sector investment in resource development Too early to measure

The finding is based on evidence collected for the following sub-questions.

5.1.a. To what extent have mineral and energy exploration increased and/or become more effective? What role did the GEM Program play?

Summary: There are many factors that may occur during the development cycle that will influence the final results of the Program. However, it is too early to determine if new exploration investment will lead to economically viable plays and further development.

There are strong indications that the level of industry interest, exploration activity and investment would not have happened without the basic geoscience knowledge provided by GEM. The evaluation found examples where GEM outputs have resulted in increased private sector exploration activity and investment. Industry supports the GEM Program and recognizes that its own activities are more effective when good public geoscience is available.

It is challenging to quantify the direct impact GEM outputs have already had on the amount and effectiveness of exploration activity in the North. GEM is four-years old and private sector investment decisions are influenced by many factors beyond the availability of the geoscience information (e.g., commodity prices; regulatory environments; public opinion and the social license to operate; transportation infrastructure; the economic climate).

Nonetheless, the evaluation found a strong correlation between GEM project results and increased exploration and investment. Evidence from the case studies, interviews, online survey and company announcements suggests that GEM results have led to changes in industry activity and investment. In some company announcements regarding exploration plans, GEM information is directly cited.

Annex C summarizes available information regarding specific industry activity or announcements related to ten GEM projects during the evaluation period. It shows industry activity in areas referenced by the GEM data releases, namely new claims staked, announced exploration investment and increased exploration effectiveness.

Several of the GEM projects highlighted in Annex C have contributed to significant investments in exploration. While not an exhaustive list because all exploration investments are not publicly available, the information is indicative. One of the two GEM energy projects listed is associated with a land bid totalling $103.0 million.

The eight GEM mineral projects in the Annex are associated with exploration investment expenditures of $16.7 million. For example, in the case of the Melville Peninsula project, up to $13 million in new exploration investments to further explore the Tuktu iron ore discovery.Footnote 67 When Advanced Exploration Incorporated announced the exploration program, it credited GEM project information presented at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum (November 2009) as being “of particular interest.”Footnote 68

As illustrated in Annex C, there are a number of instances when the release of GEM results coincided with increased land staking (or acquisition) activity by the private sector in GEM project areas, particularly in mineral exploration. In the case of the Cumberland Peninsula Project, Peregrine Diamonds staked 100% of the area covered by the GEM project, after results of the projects' first field season were released.

Annex C also provides examples of GEM results affecting the manner in which geoscience data are assessed as a means of improving exploration effectiveness. The Great Bear Project, for example, developed new protocols for interpreting data for Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG)Footnote 69 deposits and produced a short course to share the new knowledge with industry. The course was delivered in ChileFootnote 70, AustraliaFootnote 71 , and CanadaFootnote 72 .

Several NRCan GEM Program interviewees noted efforts taken to engage and familiarize industry with GEM results. These efforts led to industry's subsequent use of new techniques and approaches developed by GEM. They included presentations at fora such as the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum and Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention, short courses (and accompanying documentation) and field demonstrations.

Federal government interviewees also related many anecdotes regarding increased private sector mineral and energy activity in areas within which GEM activities had been performed. Reported indications of increased industry activity included helicopters flying in the area (e.g., “went from no helicopters flying in the area to three and now four”), the number of hectares being explored, staking rushes and increases in land use permits and surface leases/licenses

Most interviewees stated that mineral exploration companies generally were capable of responding more quickly to positive geoscience reports produced by GEM than the energy exploration industry, which has a longer planning cycle and more complicated permitting.

All respondents to the GEM Industry Survey indicated that GEM was achieving its intended objectives, although it was too early to assess the final results of the work given the short four-year window to date. The respondents also noted that GEM projects led to more educated decision-making, more interest, and use of the information generated by the Program.

5.1. b. To what extent has the highly-qualified personnel (HQP) shortage in geoscience changed as a result of the GEM Program since 2007?

Summary: The Program is supporting a significant number of geoscience students and researchers and is assisting many to obtain experience in the Canadian North, however, the impact of GEM on the shortage of HGP is difficult to quantify and attribute.

All academic, industry and NRCan GEM Program interviewees agreed that there was a shortage of HQP in geoscience. GEM provided direct opportunities for work experience and academic research related to Canada's Northern geology. However, because the Program did not have a specific HQP target or detailed tracking, it is difficult to quantify the progress towards this outcome.

The GEM Program supports the development of HQP through five means:

  • Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP);
  • hiring Co-op students;
  • Research Affiliate Program (RAP) student hire;
  • Research Affiliate Program (RAP) bursary; and
  • Collaborative Research Development (CRD) grants through the NRCan/NSERC Program.

Up to 2011-12, GEM provided approximately $4 million for the development of HQP in support of students working on GEM projects. This included $2.6 million in salary costs under the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), the Co-operative Education Program, and the Research Affiliate Program (RAP) for 271 positions (Table 6). In addition, RAP bursaries totalling $1.4 million supported 90 students (Table 7).

Table 6 – FSWEP, CO-OP and RAP Student Hires, 2008-09 to 2011-12

Year Total Number of Positions Salary Cost
(millions)
2008-09 14 0.1
2009-10 63 0.3
2010-11 109 1.2
2011-12 85 1.0
Total 271* 2.6

* RAP salary, Co-op and FWSEP (not a unique count – i.e., some students hired in more than one fiscal year).
Source: GEM Coordination Office.

Table 7 – Number and Amount of RAP Bursaries, 2008-09 to 2011-12 (millions $)

# of Students 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 Total $
90 -- 0.2 0.7 0.5 1.4

Source: GEM Coordination Office.

Although the number of students supported by GEM may appear small in absolute terms, it is significant relative to the university student population and forecasted labour requirements. For example, in 2011 the number of graduate students in earth sciences programs in Canadian universities totalled about 1,800.Footnote 73 Research conducted by the Mining Industry Human Resource Council (MiHR) indicated that by 2020 the territories will need 2,650 people in the mining industry. This total includes 74 geologists, geochemists and geophysicists and 62 geological and mineral technologists and technicians.Footnote 74

The NRCan/NSERC CRD Program also supports the development of HQP. GEM also contributed to 37 Collaborative Research Development grants to support Canadian academic researchers. This Program is co-funded by NSERC and NRCan's Earth Sciences Sector in collaboration with one or more industrial sponsors. Under this program, Canadian academic researchers may receive grants to investigate the specific research areas that support the objectives of the GEM Program. The CRD-GEM priority areas are gold, diamonds, uranium, and thermochronology (thermochronology is the study of the thermal history of rocks) research and development.Footnote 75

GEM has funded 37 CRD-related agreements for a total of $1.3 million to date. As an example, the Studies to Unlock Northern Basins Energy Along Arctic Margins – or SUNBEAM ProjectFootnote 76 out of the University of Calgary – has had funding for four years in support of geoscience in the North and has employed a total of 13 Masters and Ph.D. students over those years.

5.1.c. To what extent has collaboration with provincial/territorial government, industry and academia changed (relative to mineral and energy exploration) since 2007, and what role did the GEM Program play in any such changes?

Summary: Roles and responsibilities for collaboration with provincial and territorial governments are well defined in the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord. This evaluation found evidence of innovative collaboration with the private sector on specific projects related to GEM. Collaboration with academia has been supported by the employment of students (FSWEP, Co-op and RAP), the CRD grants and other research activities that have strengthened networks.

The GEM Program develops scientific data intended to be exploited by others, and therefore collaboration/partnership and technology transfer are key functions. In GEM, collaboration takes place with the active involvement of all levels of government, industry (Canadian and others) and academia. The forms of the collaboration include, but are not limited to, research partnerships, protocols, and training programs.

Working in partnership with NSERC and industry, the NRCan-NSERC CRD Program has resulted in seven successful submissions supporting six universities as of 2011.Footnote 77 The GEM Program contributes 40 percent of the funding to the NRCan-NSERC CRD Program.

As one example of collaboration, a research network called Smart MappingFootnote 78 focussed on Remote Predictive Mapping was established. Its members included academia (McMaster University, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, University of New Brunswick and Algonquin College). This new research network developed as a direct result of GEM and its activities in RPM.

In another instance, private companies have provided their previously confidential data to GEM for incorporation into GEM research. This marks a rare form of collaboration between government and the private sector in the mineral exploration industry, given the proprietary nature of the data.

The majority of interviewees within each of the stakeholder groups did not report any significant changes in the way in which industry, provinces/territories and the federal government collaborate on mineral and energy exploration. Most of these interviewees reported strong levels of collaboration between the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments. Most NRCan GEM Program and academic interviewees agreed that industry was kept at arms' length so that industry partners/companies did not receive preferential treatment regarding GEM results.

Many interviewees noted examples of community engagement (e.g., summer labour in camps, information sessions, courses, training for camp work, addressing community requests for incorporation of local knowledge in topographical maps, etc.). Evidence of local hires, the training they received, and some of the information sessions provided to communities was uncovered during the document review further documenting the examples of community engagement.

5.1.d. What are the chief internal and external factors influencing achievement of GEM Program objectives?

Summary: There are numerous factors that may influence the achievement of GEM Program objectives. Some of these are considered inherent to the resource development cycle. Other factors are specific to GEM.

Interviews and the document and literature review identified a range of factors that could influence the achievement of GEM outcomes. These include for example:

  • Regulatory requirements are different for each of the three territories. Certainty over land claims and progressive development policies have allowed the Yukon and Nunavut territories to streamline the process.
  • According to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, statistics demonstrate that only one in 1,000 exploration projects will actually discover an economically viable ore body, and even then there is no guarantee that a mine will be developed.
  • Public opinion may be against resource development activities, making it difficult to obtain the “social license” to operate. : “… almost six in ten Canadians (57 percent) believe that the Arctic ecosystem is too fragile for the extraction of natural resources and that it should be left relatively untouched,”Footnote 79 This reinforces the increasing and evolving requirement for community engagement and fulfilling the “duty to consult” requirements when working with Aboriginal communities.
  • Lack of transportation infrastructure was identified as the biggest issue with respect to Northern research.Footnote 80
  • Market uncertainty (e.g., commodity prices) and increased operating costs are two key external factors influencing Canada's minerals industry.Footnote 81
  • There is a general scarcity of qualified personnel which are in high demand in industry, but this is often on a cyclical trend.
  • The overall cost of working in the North can be prohibitively high. Logistics, materials and equipment are all very expensive, making the overall cost of operations higher than many other places in the world.

GEM Program interviewees also identified some internal factors that might influence the achievement of GEM outcomes:

  • For approximately 18 months (from April 2009 to October 2010), the key GEM Program Coordinator position was filled through a person on assignment, and this had an impact on program management continuity. There were also challenges such as a limited pool of available HQP, hiring processes, changes in priorities i.e., less need for experts in energy-related disciplines due to the Lancaster Sound issue
  • The “level of bureaucracy” was cited as a limiting factor that demanded a lot of time of the scientific staff, including: changing and unscheduled reporting requirements; restrictions on conference attendance (one of few ways of distributing GEM data in an unbiased fashion); and the internal requirement for students to obtain security clearance before they could be hired and their training could begin.
  • Administrative and technical support levels were reduced, in sectors, as a result of the implementation of the Shared Services Office (SSO). This meant that senior science research staff was doing more of the routine administrative and technical tasks, leaving less time to complete more complex scientific research-related tasks.
  • GEM used some services provided by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and NRCan's SSO. GEM interviewees reported frequent turnover of staff in these centralized groups leading to disruptions due to unfamiliarity with Northern conditions.
  • SSO procurement officers are not usually assigned to a specific program. In the case of GEM, however, SSO did designate a procurement officer to interface with the Program.
  • Cases were reported by NRCan interviewees wherein contracts to support summer field camps were put in place only at the last possible moment and on two occasions, only by using emergency contracting procedures. It was noted that the lack of an overarching procurement plan contributed to this situation because project requirements were identified on a project-by-project basis as they were defined by individual projects, and because procurement service standards were not communicated and, therefore, could not be understood or followed.
  • GEM is required to procure analytical services from external laboratories (a core element of the Program) by contracting through PWGSC. Unacceptable delays in procuring the required services were noted. These delays impacted on program delivery and also provided the possibility of halting the academic progression of the students involved.

Academic interviewees reported using their own laboratories to carry out such activities out of concern for the students who had collected the samples, because these students were scheduled to graduate before the samples could be processed through the mechanism available to the Program.

Other stakeholder groups did not report on internal factors with two exceptions. Two academic interviewees commented on the potential for NRCan GEM project leaders to “burn out” due to the heavy workload associated with field camp activity and the inability of the project leaders to apply themselves to their research in the field due to the workload involved in their non-research activities. An industry interviewee commented that it was, “a shame that more government scientists aren't allowed to attend the conferences” as he relied heavily on these events to obtain more information about potential exploration areas.

5.2 Evaluation Issue 5: To what extent has industry interest and/or activity in energy and mineral exploration changed as a consequence of the GEM Program (since 2007)?

Evaluation Question Lines of Evidence Assessment
To what extent has industry interest and/or activity in energy and mineral exploration changed as a consequence of the GEM Program (since 2007)? Document and literature review, interviews, survey and case studies. Overall, industry is very positive about the GEM Program, and its interest in resource development in the North remains high. In some cases, it can be said to have increased.

 

Summary: In some cases, the interest of the minerals exploration industry has increased as a result of GEM activity – there has been more exploration-related activity and, in some areas, there are more active companies than there were previously. Interest in energy exploration and development in the North remains, but lower natural gas commodity prices, more difficult accessibility compared with shale oil and gas deposits in southern locations, and other challenges such as a lack of community support (e.g., Lancaster Sound experience), require a longer-term perspective.

 

The document and literature review demonstrated significant interest in the GEM Program by industry. There is ample evidence to conclude that industry is actively using GEM products in its resource exploration decision making. This was supported by interview findings. All industry interviewees supported the proactive work being conducted by the GEM Program and predecessor GSC programs. They reported that the good base-level geoscience knowledge provided by the GEM Program enabled them to focus their exploration activities.

The industry survey also supported the conclusion that industry interest in exploration in the North remains high, or had increased. Seventy percent of respondents (seven of ten) felt their companies' interest in exploration in the North had increased since the start of GEM. Nine of ten respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Because of information provided by GEM projects, my company is planning to carry out exploration in Northern Canada within the next two years.” As one respondent noted, “I think that overall interest in exploration has increased in areas where GEM programs have been carried out.”

The case studies also support this conclusion. Private sector interest in the GEM activities in Melville Peninsula, Cumberland Peninsula, Chesterfield Inlet and Remote Predictive Mapping are very evident.

Only in the case of the Sverdrup Basin was it noted that there might be not be a change in industry interest. In this instance, case study interviewees noted that it was much too early to expect results because energy projects traditionally had a longer development cycle than mineral projects, and the current commodity prices for natural gas would discourage investment until they rebound.

5.3 Evaluation Issue 6: Have there been unintended (positive or negative) outcomes?

Evaluation Question Lines of Evidence Assessment
Have there been unintended (positive or negative) outcomes? Document and literature review, interviews, survey and case studies. GEM was generally well defined and planned, but there were several unintended outcomes. The most significant negative unintended outcome relates to the court injunction with respect to seismic testing in Lancaster Sound. GEM responded to the Lancaster Sound injunction by placing additional emphasis on community engagement.

 

Summary: The Lancaster Sound injunction was an unanticipated negative outcome and might have influenced the energy sector's calculations when deciding whether to pursue exploration opportunities. It increased the importance that the GEM Program placed on community engagement and consultation.

 

In general, the GEM Program has been well defined and planned with limited unintended outcomes. The most evident unintended outcome was the court injunctionFootnote 82 on exploration activities in Lancaster Sound, specifically seismic testing. The injunction against Lancaster Sound seismic testing exemplified the importance of community engagement and was universally mentioned by all NRCan GEM Program interviewees as the single largest unanticipated negative outcome of the Program.

All NRCan GEM Program interviewees agreed that the Program was well designed, and – with the major exception of the Lancaster Sound injunction – few significant unintended outcomes were encountered outside of some serendipitous scientific findings.

Another exception was the degree to which community engagement was required to pursue GEM Program objectives, such as the establishment of field camps and the performance of seismic testing.

An NRCan GEM Program interviewee explained that the complexity of community engagement requirements increased significantly from projects involving a single local community to those projects involving multiple communities. In this regard, the interviewee stated that projects involving water resources tended to involve more communities and flowing water resources even more communities.

Some NRCan GEM Program interviewees considered themselves ill-prepared to perform complex community engagement activities and, in particular, understanding the hierarchy and inter-relationship among local community groups and associations and the requirements of the “duty to consult” legislation and court decisions which had continued to evolve in practice. Several NRCan GEM Program interviewees stated that the introduction of the GEM Northern Engagement Coordinator position following the Lancaster Sound injunction had ameliorated the situation. Thus, the Program was found to have demonstrated learning and adapting to an evolving working environment.

Two other negative outcomes were identified through the case studies:

  • The inability to hire HQP within certain disciplines of the GEM projects impaired the execution of the research plans. In the case of the Chesterfield Inlet Project, a gold metallogenist (there are very few well-qualified gold metallogenists) resulted in a suspension of the Chesterfield Inlet Project, and thereby impaired its ability to deliver as planned. The ongoing inability to hire highly-skilled technical personnel to support the research scientists limited the ability of the RPM Project to deliver as planned.
  • NRCan GEM Program interviewees stated that, despite some recent attempts by some GEM management personnel, the GSC had not had a strong collaborative relationship with NRCan's Canada Centre for Remote Sensing – the Government of Canada's centre of excellence for remote sensingFootnote 83 and geodesyFootnote 84 – which had prevented the Program from taking advantage of the technical expertise within CCRS.Footnote 85 Remote Predictive Mapping is essentially the application of remote sensing techniques to geological survey. It was reported by NRCan GEM Program interviewees that while there had been discussions between the Program and the CCRS regarding the potential involvement of the CCRS in Remote Predicative Mapping, the CCRS had not been meaningfully involved in the initiative.

6.0 Evaluation Findings – Performance: Efficiency and Economy

To address the issue of efficiency and economy, the evaluation focused on three questions:

  1. Is the Program the most economic and efficient means of achieving outputs and progress toward outcomes?
  2. Is performance information being collected and used on an ongoing basis?
  3. To what extent can the impacts and effects noted, if any, be attributed to the GEM Program?

6.1 Evaluation Issue 7: Is the Program the most economic and efficient means of achieving outputs and progress toward outcomes?

Evaluation Question Lines of Evidence Assessment
Is the Program the most economic and efficient means of achieving outputs and progress toward outcomes? Document and literature review, interviews, survey, case studies. GEM was able to take advantage of cost-saving opportunities. There are areas for improvement with respect to project management processes.

 

Summary: GEM adapted many cost-saving practices. Examples include: using the services of the Polar Continental Shelf Program for logistical services; testing of legacy samples already stored at GSC facilities; and the use of RPM. Some areas for improvement in project management processes remain.

 

The assessment was based on findings from four sub-questions.

6.1.a. To what extent does program design and delivery support achievement of its outcomes?

Summary: GEM is a national program that secures its human resources within the different components of the Earth Sciences Sector, including staff in the regional GSC offices (i.e. Vancouver, Sidney, Calgary, Québec and Halifax) with the resulting strengths and weaknesses of such a model. The Program has adapted many cost-saving practices and has addressed some project management issues by modifying the role and responsibilities of the GEM Coordination Office (i.e., the creation of a communications officer, an engagement officer and financial officers).

The way GEM carries out geo-mapping is evolving (e.g., community engagement, new technologies such as RPM, etc.), and this may impact how GEM should organize itself including roles and responsibilities, and the human resource competencies it requires. For approximately 18 months (from April 2009 to October 2010), the key GEM Program Coordinator position was filled through a person on assignment, and this had an impact on program management continuity. Project management processes changed during a relatively short period of time, impeding documentation of project activities, outputs, results and changes over time.

According to the document review, the Program has a defined governance and structure which have not been implemented as originally planned. Certain key bodies are not meeting, or are not being well documented (e.g., there are no GEM Board of Directors meetings on record; there is only one ESS Advisory Committee meeting on record; and there is only one Technical Advisory Committee meeting (2009) on record). The GEM Board of Directors was replaced by the GSC directors who reviewed GEM progress on a biannual basis. The AGN, however, met at least twice per year and those meetings and follow-up were well documented.

At the outset, the Program was to spend at least 75 percent of its funds in the territories. The planned ratio has been surpassed as approximately 90 percent of funds have been allocated to the three territories. Approximately $9 million (or 9 percent) was nominally budgeted for project activities in provinces out of a total of $100 million.Footnote 86

Document review and interviews highlighted that there was an evolving project management approach during the 18-month period when the person in the Program Coordinator position was on assignment. Project planning and reporting templates were changed three times in four years which made it difficult and, in some cases, impossible to track budgets, outputs and changes to projects. No formal change management process for projects was evident, although some justification could be found for some project-specific changes in the related project documentation.

The Program has tried to identify and implement lessons learned with respect to some project management issues. For example, early in the Program, the burden of conducting science as well as placing all administrative and financial responsibilities on the project leaders was noted by NRCan GEM Program interviewees as having a detrimental effect. In response, the Program introduced project managers in 2011-12, usually sub-division chiefs within GSC, who were given financial and administrative authority, relieving project leaders of these responsibilities. The interviewees stated that the relatively recent introduction of project managers had produced mixed results. Some believed it had been helpful, while others felt that it had added a layer of bureaucracy.

Several NRCan GEM Program interviewees reported that hiring authority was given to divisional directors so that GEM requirements could be prioritized with divisional and overall GSC requirements. NRCan GEM Program interviewees unanimously stated that GEM hiring had not occurred as planned.

6.1.b. Are there more cost-effective ways that the results achieved to date could have been obtained?

Summary: The Program is finding cost-effective ways of working (e.g., utilizing the Polar Continental Shelf Program for logistics) and developing cost-effective horizontal enabling technologies (e.g., RPM).

Table 2 contains a financial summary of actual expenditures of the GEM Program. The aerial survey expenses and logistics expenses were two of the larger types of expenses for the GEM Program and were being managed in the most cost-effective manner possible.

The GEM Program works with the NRCan SSO for procurement and with the Polar Continental Shelf Program for procurement and logistical support in establishing seasonal base camps. GEM contracted for logistical services with the NRCan's Polar Continental Shelf Program. Total fees paid to the PCSP amounted to $12 million up to the end of 2011-12.

As of December 2011, the Program had spent approximately $24 million on aerial surveys, or almost 33 percent of all planned expenditures to March 2012. Industry representatives had approached the federal government, in 2008, requesting that it accelerate expenditure on aerial surveys given that the industry was suffering from a severe downturn in business, coinciding with the global recession that was being experienced at the time. The Program did this and, in at least some cases, was able to obtain below market prices for the aerial survey work as a result.

All categories of interviewees consistently commented on how costly it was to work in the North (e.g., $2,000/hour for helicopters), but universally agreed that the science was performed by GEM as cost effectively as possible. Many industry, academic and NRCan GEM Program interviewees stated that NSERC funding and industry's support through flight time and logistical support in camps enabled more science to be accomplished than would have been possible through GEM funding alone.

Also mentioned was the testing of existing legacy samples with new technology and data captured from the notes of retired geologists. These were very cost-effective measures to gain valuable geological information without the need for aerial surveys or field camps. Students were often hired to go through legacy collections. This is an example of a cost-effective way of completing this work while also supporting the development of HQP.

The case studies also supported the finding that the GEM Program was being delivered in a cost- effective manner. Regarding the Sverdrup Basin project case study, there were examples of cost savings that had been realised. Specifically, interviewees mentioned that satellite imagery was used for Remote Predictive Mapping for some portions of Ellef Ringes Island at a cost of about $8,000. This saved the cost of several weeks of field work.

The RPM case study highlights the cost-effective nature of the RPM technique. It offers the potential to provide a basic level of bedrock and surficial geoscience information for poorly mapped geographic areas (“white spaces”) by employing automation in place of traditional labour-intensive techniques. It also provides the ability to assist in narrowing down promising areas for field study, potentially maximizing the efficiency of follow-up activities. Industry interviewees reported using it for this purpose, as did the NRCan GEM Program interviewees involved with field projects.

6.1.c. What, if anything, about the GEM Program needs to be adjusted?

Summary: Areas for improvement in management processes include:

  • administration of CRD grants, and specifically the timeliness of transfers;
  • procurement;
  • project management tools;
  • roles and responsibilities (i.e., science/technical/management/administrative mix); and
  • more proactive communication of results (e.g., ability for companies to register for email notifications of results, attendance at conferences, etc.).

A number of areas of improvement were identified by the various lines of evidence. The document review indicated that there might be areas for improvement in the administration of the NRCan portions of the CRD grants. The transfer of funds were late in some instances and put unnecessary challenges on the recipients who were trying to undertake field work that was very time sensitive.

There are areas for improvement in project management formats and tools. The review of the documentation reveals that three different project planning templates have been used in the four years of GEM. Changing formats make year-to-year project monitoring difficult, and can therefore affect planning. It may also represent an unnecessary 'burden' on project leaders and other staff as they have to learn new methods of project planning and reporting and respond to unanticipated reporting requirements.

The Program introduced project managers to help alleviate the financial and administrative requirements on the scientists, but based on evidence collected during the evaluation, the impact was perceived as being mixed. Some NRCan GEM Program interviewees stated that the introduction of the project managers was very helpful in reducing the workload of project leaders. Others expressed concern that project leaders retained fiscal responsibility while having lost the ability to manage finances.

The majority of NRCan GEM Program interviewees strongly supported changes to the way in which SSO provided support services. A level of frustration with procurement processes was evident, although the root cause was not determined.

There were several relevant comments related to management processes that were collected through the industry survey. Several respondents focused on the need for quicker and more proactive distribution of information by the Program. Key suggestions included email notifications for recently-published material, and making GEM scientists available at relevant conferences to make industry more aware of available information and to help them to better understand it.

6.1.d. To what extent have the GEM Program outputs (geological data, models, HQP) been produced and at what cost?

Summary: The Program is generally on track, producing significant outputs and spending funds as planned with an overall funding lapse of two percent.

GEM's expenditures to the end of 2011-12 were approximately $86.1 million with a lapse of just over two million dollars (or about two %). There is significant evidence to demonstrate that the Program is producing outputs. Within the period being evaluated, 24 aerial geophysical surveys were completed, covering an area of approximately 460,000 km2 (about the size of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia combined) at a cost of approximately $24 million. There have been approximately 424 publications (e.g., maps, open files, other publications, etc.) produced. Also, over 300 presentations have been developed and given to industry at local, national and international conferences. GEM scientists have also supervised 16 theses publications. Another output – a web-service tool – is being developed through the financial support of the NRCan/NSERC CRD Program by Arctic College in Iqaluit to make local geoscience accessible to Northerners.Footnote 87

6.2 Evaluation Issue 8: Is performance information being collected and used on an ongoing basis?

Evaluation Question Lines of Evidence Assessment
Is the GEM Program performance information used for decision–making by the Program, including stakeholders? How? Document and literature review and interviews. Yes. Performance information is collected and used by the Program in (re) prioritization of areas for (further) study, among other factors.

 

Summary: The Program records all outputs, tracks press releases, web analytics, and industry investment in GEM project areas. The Program assesses high priority areas for study using performance information (outputs, industry and community interest) among other factors.

 

The GEM Program began tracking performance data in late 2010. The information collected has included documenting success stories. These are short descriptions written by the project managers with anecdotal information or press releases issued by companies about exploration investment in response to the release of GEM data. Web analyticsFootnote 88 are tracked with respect to the download of GEM information on the various NRCan web sites. The table in Annex D presents downloaded information of GEM material by domain.

The web analytics statistics indicate there has been an increasing amount of GEM information downloaded since the publication of information started in 2009. After federal government domains, the most downloads are done by commercial domains (those email addresses ending in .com) – 18 downloads in 2009, 160 in 2010 and 413 in 2011.

The Program also has tracked the investment by industry in GEM project areas through company press releases, and collected further information by conducting a survey of industry partners and internal staff in 2010 to assess the performance of the Program.

With respect to interviews, a significant number of NRCan GEM Program interviewees referred to the GEM Logic Model by name, and some had it posted in their offices. These interviewees understood its importance in determining how project and activity priorities were set. The decision on whether or not to perform a certain activity was based on whether the proposed piece of work would lead to a specific output, and whether this would contribute to a GEM outcome – would the proposed piece of work fill a knowledge gap related to the project?

Several NRCan GEM Program interviewees also related how provincial/territorial input continued to be regularly sought to inform program decisions. Many NRCan GEM Program interviewees reported keeping track of outputs (e.g., maps, open file reports, GSC publications, scientific and journal papers, abstracts, posters, short courses and various presentations), and regularly reporting this information to the GEM Coordination Office where it was amalgamated and used to assess performance. In 2011, the GEM Program started to consolidate all this information in a SharePoint directory in order to have a historical record of the Program's outputs and documentation.

6.3 Evaluation Issue 9: To what extent can the impacts and effects noted, if any, be attributed to the GEM Program?

Evaluation Question Lines of Evidence Assessment
What likely would have happened in the areas of GEM Program outcomes had the GEM Program not existed? Interviews, survey and case studies. GEM has produced information and transferred modern geoscience knowledge for land-use planning and decisions about resource development that have been acted upon by industry and, to some extent, communities (e.g., maps using traditional place names).

 

Summary: There is a strong link between the release of GEM data and products, and subsequent exploration activity by private sector companies in many GEM project areas. There are strong indications that the level of industry interest, exploration activity and investment would not have happened without the basic geoscience knowledge provided by GEM.

 

Several industry and NRCan GEM Program interviewees reported that companies focused their exploration activities where they had the greatest opportunities for success. Generally, this was in areas where basic geoscience exists. As stated by one NRCan GEM Program interviewee, “Industry checks to see if 'prospectivity' is there and if not, they will go elsewhere. The Canadian North is expensive – Chile and Argentina are cheaper.”

Without GEM, less information would have been available, and there would have been fewer opportunitiesto transfer modern geoscience knowledge for land-use planning and decisions about development of resources in the North. In addition, several Northerners, Aboriginal and NRCan GEM Program interviewees stated that the exposure and motivation of young Northerners to the benefits of education in general, and geoscience in particular, would be reduced without the opportunities afforded by the GEM Program. In summary, most academic, industry and NRCan GEM Program interviewees agreed that GEM was bridging major geoscience knowledge gaps that inhibited mineral and energy exploration, land use planning and resource decision-making in the North. Without GEM, they believed that these major gaps would persist.

The industry survey also reinforced that there would have been less exploration investment and activity without GEM, “Without the new geoscience data from the GEM Program, the basic database for mineral exploration would be less effective and would lower the opportunity for future exploration success.”

The case studies also support the finding that GEM activities and outputs are having an impact. The results – increased private sector activity from projects in Melville, Cumberland and, to some extent, Chesterfield Inlet – can be attributed directly to GEM outputs. RPM is more difficult to draw direct attribution, although there are indications that the new approach, as a methodology, is providing the desired results.

7.0 Conclusions and Recommendations

7.1 Conclusions

The overall conclusions are that the GEM Program is relevant and addresses a continuing need. It is aligned with government priorities, as well as NRCan strategic priorities, and is an appropriate federal role. The Program has been effective, meeting, or is in the process of meeting most of its immediate outcomes. GEM uses cost efficient and economical processes where possible.

Evaluation Issue Assessment
1. Is there a continuing need for the Program? Yes, the GEM Program continues to address a need – producing public geoscience for facilitating energy and mineral exploration and land-use decision making that supports sustainable economic growth in the North.
2. Is the Program consistent with government priorities and NRCan's strategic objectives Yes, GEM is consistent with both government priorities, such as the Northern Strategy, and NRCan's strategic objectives.
3. Is there a legitimate, appropriate and necessary role for the federal government in the Program? Yes, there is a clear and appropriate role for the federal government in the provision of public geoscience in the North.
4. To what extent have intended outcomes been achieved as a result of the Program? GEM has made significant progress towards achieving its immediate outcomes in a relatively short period of time. Because mineral and energy resource development has a long development cycle, achievement of intermediate and final outcomes will take time, and there are many other factors that will influence the result.
5. To what extent has industry interest and/or activity in energy and mineral exploration changed as a consequence of the GEM Program (since 2007)? Overall, there has been a very positive response by industry to the GEM Program, and its interest in resource development in the North remains high. In some cases, it can be said to have increased.
6. Have there been unintended (positive or negative) outcomes? GEM was generally well defined and planned, and there were limited unintended outcomes. There has been one significant negative unintended outcome which relates to the court injunction with respect to seismic testing in Lancaster Sound. GEM responded to the Lancaster Sound injunction by placing additional emphasis on community engagement.
7. Is the Program the most economic and efficient means of achieving outputs and progress toward outcomes? Yes. GEM was able to take advantage of cost-saving opportunities. There are areas for improvement with respect to project management processes.
8. Is GEM Program performance information used for decision–making by the Program, including stakeholders? How? Yes. Performance information is being collected by the Program which is used in (re)prioritization of areas for (further) study, among other factors.
9. What likely would have happened in the areas of GEM Program outcomes had the GEM Program not existed? GEM has produced information and transferred modern geoscience knowledge for land-use planning and decisions about resource development that have been acted upon by industry and, to some extent, communities (e.g., maps using traditional place names).

7.2 Recommendations

In order to achieve its objectives, particularly supporting the socio-economic well-being of Canadians, the GEM Program should complete the provision of basic geoscience knowledge for the areas in the North not yet mapped.

The evaluation's recommendations are:

  1. NRCan should strengthen the role and responsibilities of the GEM Coordination Office in order to address project management issues by:
  • continuing to develop project management approaches to enable research scientists to focus on research activities yet still provide their input/insight into project planning and implementation;
  • implementing consistent routine reporting practices and tracking financial and technical performance against planned results;
  • working in collaboration with SSO to develop and implement an annual procurement plan, based on shared best practices,
  • addressing the reality of doing business in Northern Canada and identifying a dedicated SSO staff who understands the Northern issues;
  • developing, implementing and managing a formal hiring plan to ensure effective management functions; the GEM hiring plan should be incorporated into the sector HR plans to better enable the Program to organize itself, clarify roles and responsibilities, and ensure that the requisite HR competencies are in place; and
  • improving the administration of CRD grants, particularly with a view to ensuring that payments are transferred within the agreed timelines.
  • NRCan should better articulate the role that GEM is intended to play in addressing the shortage of highly-qualified personnel by including specific HQP targets for the Program.
  • NRCan should clarify the Program objective with respect to the role of community engagement and developing appropriate strategies and approaches.
  • Building on its current dissemination activities, NRCan should improve Program reach and communication of results to industry (e.g., listing objectives of all projects in the Program, providing email notifications of project results with links to comprehensive Program web page, and effective attendance at industry conferences).

Annex A: GEM Logic Model

Annex B: Financial Overview

GEM Budget FY 2008-09 to FY 2012-13 ($)
    FY 2008-09 FY 2009-10 FY 2010-11 FY 2011-12 FY 2012-13  
    Actual Actual Actual Estimate Estimate Total
GEM001 GEM Coordination 1,583,768 278,447 183,347 885,187 1,125,900 4,056,649
               
GKM001 GEM Knowledge Management Coordination 0 1,925,889 175,317 306,371 389,420 2,796,997
GKM002 Minerals IM Coordination 159,226 0 199,000 260,000 208,000 826,226
GKM003 Energy IM Coordination 0 22,467 303,337 474,700 496,540 1,297,044
GKM004 Geological Map Flow 0 14,302 135,000 196,000 0 345,302
GKM005 Smart Mapping 296,340 0 418,000 419,609 323,217 1,457,166
GKM006 Tri-Territorial Framework Databases – Bedrock 20,759 0 177,000 137,500 82,000 417,259
GKM007 Tri-Territorial Framework Databases – Surficial 24,268 15,129 244,067 245,300 168,780 697,544
GKM008 Tri-Territorial Framework Databases – Indicator Minerals 57,271 134,911 428,462 250,000 185,000 1,055,644
               
EGM001 GEM Energy Coordination 2,336,953 360,152 295,913 252,066 477,480 3,722,564
EGM002 Yukon Sedimentary Basins – Yukon and Laird Basins 0 1,114,193 1,145,380 391,620 535,470 3,186,663
EGM003 Mackenzie Delta Corridor 0 444,715 980,985 1,044,400 465,800 2,935,900
EGM004 Sverdrup Sedimentary Basin 45,000 555,937 1,432,734 1,424,700 293,000 3,751,371
EGM005 “Baffin Bay” Sedimentary Basin 0 489,292 837,629 309,400 370,800 2,007,121
EGM006 Hudson/Foxe Sedimentary Basin 0 228,829 562,106 757,000 260,000 1,807,935
EGM007 Uranium – Northern Uranium for Canada 181,328 2,064,453 org 916,056 663,000 295,000 4,119,837
               
MGM001 GEM Minerals Coordination 473,017 3,396,220 442,674 315,398 507,900 5,135,209
MGM002 Diamonds [J. Percival] 227,139 1,935,115 857,844 652,300 571,000 4,243,398
MGM003 Gold – Baker Lake – Wager Bay Corridor 0 1,522,308 183,560 184,700 0 1,890,568
MGM004 PGE/Base Metals – Victoria Island 361,113 1,238,768 1,835,433 1,271,000 564,000 5,270,314
MGM005 Base Metals – South Central Yukon 31,989 14,569 25,000 0 0 71,558
MGM006 Multiple Metals - NW Canadian Cordilleran 971,003 2,260,120 1,451,406 1,304,711 593,900 6,581,140
MGM007 Multiple Metals – Cumberland Peninsula 1,088,018 350,494 1,284,508 117,000 45,000 2,885,020
MGM008 Multiple Metals – Melville Peninsula 395,690 3,302,179 1,941,762 979,000 972,000 7,590,631
MGM009 Multiple Metals – North East Manitoba 890,587 104,211 173,742 40,000 23,000 1,231,540
MGM010 IOCG/Multiple Metals – Great Bear Region 252,710 1,482,158 1,159,085 465,000 230,000 3,588,953
MGM011 Multiple Metals – Schefferville 739,140 2,717,829 1,657,641 36,365 0 5,150,975
  Operation GEM 0 0 0 3,681,713 7,851,593 11,533,306
               
  Total 10,135,319 25,972,687 19,446,988 17,064,040 17,034,800 89,653,834

Source: GEM Coordination Office. All figures Canadian dollars.
NOTE: A budgeted value of $8,262,328 for EBP and corporate services needs to be added to this total for overall Program actual and planned expenditure of $98 million.

Annex C: Selected GEM Projects and Associated Industry Activity

GEM Project Industry Activity Associated Investment
(if available)
GEM Energy    
GEM Uranium Project Uranium exploration in the Thelon Basin
  • Exploration Effectiveness: industry began modifying its exploration strategies as a function of the new GEM knowledge. For example, it started to focus on rocks of an age previously ignored, drilled areas of high potential predicted by the new GEM geological model, and was adapting exploration portfolios to include ignored rare earth elements and gold associated with areas of uranium potential.
(Source: “From Armchair Geology to a New Uranium District: Finding the Kiggavik Deposits,” Oral Presentation by Peter Wollenberg, Director, Exploration and Acquisitions, AREVA Resources Canada, Nunavut Geoscience Forum, Iqaluit, April 7 2011, and Rebecca Hunter, oral presentation at Geological Association of Canada/Mining Association of Canada Forum 2011, Ottawa)
Not applicable
Mackenzie : results available May 2010
  • Increased land acquisition: August 2010, Chevron Canada bid on land parcels in the Beaufort Sea that were targeted using information that incorporated GEM project results.
(Source: Call for Bids information posted on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada as found at http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100036628/1100100036630#callbid; and GEM program data, April 21, 2011)
$103,000,000
GEM Minerals    
Chesterfield Gold Project
  • New Staking Activity: Dozens of new claim blocks, located within and adjacent to the magnetic survey area, were staked following the release of the survey data.
  • Increased Industry Interest: Five of the seven companies with new gold claims entered this area of Nunavut in 2011
(Source: Comparison of 2010 and 2011 Nunavut Exploration Overview as found at http://nunavutgeoscience.ca/eo/YrRgnCmmdtyGrp/7/17/1_e.html)
Unavailable
Multiple Metals - Cumberland Peninsula
  • New Staking Activity: In February, 2010, Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. acquired 115 prospecting permits (5,270 sq km). The area covered 100% of the GEM Cumberland 2009 map area
(Source: From the Peregrine Diamonds website, dated March 4, 2011 http://www.pdiam.com/s/BaffinIsland.asp?ReportID=405614)
$300,000
Multiple Metals – NW Canadian Cordillera (Edges) Project
  • New Exploration Activity and Staking: Informed by new GEM data and knowledge, Tarsis Resources Ltd made three new grassroots discoveries.
- The White River property was found by Tarsis Resources through analysis of the GEM geophysical data to generate geophysical targets, and comparison with anomalies in the pre-existing regional stream sediment geochemistry database. Tarsis Resources initiated an accelerated exploration program to follow up on this discovery. - following participation in Project's Open House field trip in August, 2010, Tarsis
Resources staked 186 claims (approximately 3,900 hectares) in one area naming it “Rosie”, and another 36 claims that they named “Burns” property. (Source: (Source: “Grassroots Copper, Gold and Silver Discovery at White River, Yukon” as found at http://www.tarsis.ca/index.php/news5/2010-news/94-grassroots-copper-gold-and-silver-discovery-at-white-river-yukon) and “Tarsis Acquires New Porphyry Prospect, Yukon” as found at http://www.tarsis.ca/index.php/news5/2010-news/86-tarsis-acquires-new-porphyry-prospect-yukon )
$900,000
Multiple Metals – Schefferville and Ungava Bay Project
  • Increased Staking Activity: The Michikimats body was staked by prospectors in March 2010, following the GEM data release earlier that month (Optioned to Fieldex in April, 2010 for further exploration.)
(Source: Fieldex acquires ownership of 100% of the Michikamats property, Labrador http://www.fieldexexploration.com/press-release/detail-71.html)
  • The Ytterby 4 body was discovered by Midland Exploration on the basis of an anomaly in the GEM geophysical data.
(Source: Midland Exploration Inc. Ytterby REE Project, March 2011 http://www.midlandexploration.com/fr/MediaHandler.ashx?MediaId=7738e7a2-271d-4968-b462-15c8cba8ba5e, and “Midland Exploration Resumes Exploration with JOGMEC on its Rare Earth Ytterby Project” press release, June 7, 2011 as found at http://news.goldseek.com/FeaturedPR/1307462957.php)
  • GEM project results mentioned in both instances
Unknown $2,500,000
Multiple Metals – North Eastern Manitoba
  • New Staking Activity coincides with Release of GEM project data: Manitor Minerals Inc. has staked claims and is planning to explore for gold in the Great Island area.
(Source: Manitoba Geological Survey, March , 2011 as provided by GEM Coordination Office and http://www.manitoba.ca/iem/mrd/mines/claim/licencemap.pdf)
Unavailable
Indicator Mineral Data Compilation Project
  • Improved Industry Effectiveness:
- Minerals Metals Group (MMG) staff trained by the GEM team in the field started using the recommended field protocols and techniques for surficial sediment sampling in all their Canadian exploration programs, and the Volcanogenic Massive Sulfides indicator mineral methodology was adopted by MMG and applied to all relevant exploration properties in northern Canada.
$50,000
Melville Peninsula Project:
  • Increased Staking and Exploration Activity: Following the release of the GEM Open File Report and presentation at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum 2009, Geo Vector Resources acquired prospecting permits for approximately 800,000 hectares covering all of the gold anomaly targets in southern Melville Peninsula. They followed up in summer 2010 with a helicopter-based sampling program over selected targets.
  • The new Ag-Cu-Zn-Pb +/- Au GEM discoveries were claimed by Advanced Exploration Inc. (AEI), which conducted an exploration program there in the summer 2011. AEI also plans to develop an exploration program on another prospect of Ni-Cu.
  • Increased Staking Activity: Vale Inco acquired prospecting permits over approx 50,000 Ha in Melville Peninsula belt following the GEM discovery of massive magmatic Ni-Cu mineralisation. Field activities planned in 2011.
(Source: Nunavut Geoscience Exploration Overview http://nunavutgeoscience.ca/eo/index_e.html, http://www.advanced-exploration.com/_files/file.php?fileid=filemqUqGDktnZ&filename=file_AEI_Press_ReleaseFebruary25.pdf ,and Corrigan, David. Geological Survey of Canada: GEM: The Melville Peninsula Project (Talking to Leaders of Northern Communities). Advisory Group of Northerners Meeting, Ottawa, December 5, 2011, slide 30.)
$13,000,000
Multiple Metals – Great Bear Magmatic Zone
  • Improved Exploration Effectiveness: GEM project team is ensuring that this new knowledge was transferred to the exploration sector, and also prepared and presented an industry-focused short course on IOCG deposits, and collaborated with world experts on the production and publication of an acclaimed short course volume. Course was presented in Australia, Chile and Canada.
(Source: Exploring for Iron Oxide Copper Gold Deposits, Geological Association of Canada short course as found at http://www.gac.ca/publications/view_pub.php?id=208)
Not applicable

Number of publication downloads per domain group
- GEM only
(not bound by dates)

Number of publication downloads per domain group - GEM only

Source: Geospatial Products and Services, Mapping Information Branch, Earth Sciences Sector, NRCan.
[Text version - Annex D]

GEM
Downloads by Domain
Separated by Fiscal Year

Downloads by Domain Separated by Fiscal Year

Source: Geospatial Products and Services, Mapping Information Branch, Earth Sciences Sector, NRCan.
[Text version - Annex D, part 2]