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About the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program

How it all began

GEM was first launched as a five-year (2008-2013), $100-million geological mapping program administered by Natural Resources Canada’s Geological Survey of Canada. At the time, Canada had an insufficient geological understanding of vast tracts of its Northern territory – a landmass roughly equivalent to the landmass of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

In August 2013 the Government of Canada renewed support of $100 million over seven years (2013-2020) for the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) program, which advances geological knowledge in the North to support increased exploration of natural resources and inform decisions on land use that balance conservation and responsible resource development.

The program is conducted in collaboration with provinces and territories as per the principles outlined in the Ministerial Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord (IGA). It benefits from an Advisory Group of Northerners, which includes representatives from territorial governments, the private sector and Aboriginal socio-economic development organizations.

Key activities of the GEM program consist of:

  • Collecting new field data, applying modern techniques in airborne geophysics and using cutting-edge geochemistry methods;
  • Using state of the art geological science and technologies to document geological structures, create new maps, and develop geological models and regional frameworks;
  • Making the data, maps and knowledge available via the Internet to decision-makers ranging from government and community agencies, to industry investors and land-use planners;
  • Collaborating with Northern institutions to develop innovative approaches and tools that facilitate the use of GEM data and knowledge by Northerners; and,
  • Engaging communities and local governments to participate in field projects.
  • The program is significantly increasing publicly available geoscience information about Canada’s North — including the identification of areas of high potential for gold, nickel, platinum-group elements, rare metals, base metals and diamonds. This information is increasingly being used by the private sector in Canada and around the world, as it helps mineral and energy exploration companies reduce their risks and exploration costs, which creates jobs and encourages economic development.

GEM is also helping to ensure that jobs are created in rural and remote communities in Canada’s North through resource exploration and development.  For example, companies which make investment decisions on where to look for resource deposits will hire local people and provide them with training and employment opportunities.

Phase 1 GEM Results (2008–2013)

  • 21 field projects in the three northern territories and the northern parts of six provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
  • 35 regional geophysical surveys have been completed, over 700 open file releases of new geoscience maps and data have been published on the Natural Resources Canada Website, and more than 800 technical information sessions have been delivered at venues frequented by industry, government and NGOs.

The above research has resulted in new exploration investments by over 100 companies, generating $40 million in direct employment opportunities and indirect investments of over $300 million. Private sector activities include:

  • An international mining giant investing in nickel exploration in the Melville Peninsula (NU);
  • Extensive staking of diamond prospecting permits on southeast Baffin (NU);
  • Industry discovery of significant copper-gold-silver deposits in the Yukon; and,

A modern, quantitative estimate of the undiscovered hydrocarbon potential in the Mackenzie Valley corridor - 4.8 billion barrels of oil and 32.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - have yet to be discovered in this area.

Related links

Gem-2 Research Activities

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