On behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories, thank you for this opportunity to speak about our concerns and priorities and about how we can work together to improve the lives of northerners.
The Government of the Northwest Territories has been actively working with the Government of Canada to advance transformational infrastructure needs throughout the territory. Through our work on key policy documents such as the Arctic policy framework and the Arctic transportation policy framework, as well as in other forums, our government has been communicating our overarching goal of creating a prosperous, sustainable future for the people of the Northwest Territories.
A strong, diversified economy is the foundation that provides residents with the jobs and economic opportunities needed to support themselves and their families. Responsible resource development has been, and will continue to be, the backbone of our economy and is central to ensuring that the territory develops a strong middle class. With a strong resource development base, we will be able to support diversification of our local economies into emerging and established sectors such as tourism, traditional economies, agriculture, arts and crafts, manufacturing and commercial fishing. This diversification increases the sustainability of our economy and broadens opportunities for northerners.
Before I speak about specific economic and infrastructure priorities, I'll talk about how our government works to create opportunity through the Northwest Territories through our partnership with indigenous governments and businesses.
The Prime Minister has spoken extensively about indigenous reconciliation, and it's an important and welcome priority for many in Canada. The Northwest Territories is an example of how real partnerships with regional and community indigenous governments, based on mutual respect and recognition, can lead to increased political self-determination and economic participation for indigenous people.
Reconciliation is an ongoing process, but we think our territory is well ahead of the rest of Canada, and there are some lessons that can be shared. The Northwest Territories is the one and only jurisdiction in which decision-making and resource revenue-sharing agreements exist with indigenous governments. It's an area in which we are proud to be leaders, both for the benefit of our territory and for those who choose to invest in its future.
Our dynamic, modern economy is defined in large part by our innovative indigenous businesses. From mining and mining services, to indigenous culture, tourism and everything in between, our indigenous business community has evolved over decades of world-leading indigenous participation in business and economic development. The indigenous businesses have proven their capacity to play an active, fully engaged role in the economy and are encouraging NWT governments and organizations to act and invest accordingly.
Increasing and expanding participation and engagement of indigenous businesses in particular is evidence of a changing and fast-developing NWT economy. Earlier this month, leaders from the Dene, Métis, and Inuvialuit governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories met for a two-day, in-depth discussion about the future of the NWT economy and to identify concrete ways to work together to create a prosperous and strong territory, while still respecting aboriginal, indigenous and individual rights, legal authorities and priorities of each government. At the end of the two-day symposium, leaders agreed to consider establishing a working group with representatives from indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories to identify economic opportunities and concrete next steps it can take together to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for all Northwest Territory residents.
Identifying the shared economic priorities of our government and indigenous governments helps us create the consensus we need to move forward as a territory. It will also help our government as we continue to work with the federal government on completing an Arctic policy framework that will set out federal priorities and spending commitments for social and economic development in the north. The Government of the Northwest Territories actively supports economic diversification through strategic investments to support tourism, film, agriculture, the information and knowledge economy, the traditional economy, manufacturing and other renewable resource-based activities locally, within Canada, and internationally.
While our economy is shifting, resource development remains the main contributor to the Northwest Territories economy and will be a significant source of middle-class jobs and business opportunities well into the future. Our territory has mineral and petroleum resources that could position it as a primary economic driver for our country. The recent announcement by Minister LeBlanc and Minister Sohi, including the beginning of negotiations around offshore resources, was a notable first step in the right direction for our government.
The Northwest Territories is home to many of the minerals that will fuel the global green economy, including cobalt, gold, lithium, bismuth and rare earth elements. Alongside our mineral resources, our territory has significant energy power potential. As we continue our shift to low-carbon alternatives, our hydro development has the potential to meet market needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A healthy environment is essential for northerners. We have decades of experience in safe and responsible resource development and are already positioned to drive innovation in cold-climate research.
Despite our enormous economic potential and strong indigenous partners, the Northwest Territories is still hindered, in that we still require much of the basic infrastructure that already exists in southern jurisdictions. This includes roads to which many of our communities do not have access. In partnership with Canada, we need to continue to build territorial and community infrastructure to support healthy and prosperous communities and to lower the cost of living.
Large-scale investment in northern energy, transportation and communications infrastructure corridors is key to creating investment and economic opportunities in all sectors. The Government of Northwest Territories has identified four priority strategic infrastructure projects, including the Taltson hydro expansion project, the Tlicho all-season road, the Mackenzie Valley Highway and the Slave geological province access corridor. Each of these has the potential to make a transformative impact on the territories by helping unlock our full economic potential, transitioning to a lower-carbon economy and stabilizing the cost of living.
We're a small population, and we can't get there alone. While we will be working with indigenous governments and businesses as well as industry, the federal government needs to be a key partner. The Government of Canada has been a key proponent in the vision and the realization of transformative infrastructure investment, and we look forward to continuing work with Canada to bring the north to the forefront of transformative nation-building projects and investments that will benefit all of Canada.
Working with the Government of Northwest Territories to make transformative investments in the NWT economy and infrastructure, people and environment provides the federal government with an opportunity to achieve goals in growing the middle class, fostering meaningful reconciliation, protecting the environment, promoting sovereignty and strongly positioning Canada as an Arctic nation.
The Taltson expansion is a key element of our vision to transform our economy by lowering industrial emissions, improving energy security, harnessing innovation, and reducing the cost of living, while providing access to clean power that will fuel the technology sector and advance indigenous reconciliation. Connecting the Taltson and the Snare hydro systems and expanding the Taltson capacity will provide cleaner, more reliable energy for over 70% of our residents and businesses and will lay the foundation for greening current and future mining development.
Partnering with indigenous governments to advance the Taltson expansion is essential for meaningful economic reconciliation and will be a key area of focus at the start of the project. Incorporating indigenous rights, knowledge and cultural values into project design and implementation will help create prosperity and sustainable livelihoods. Indigenous ownership and equity participation are an integral component of the project.
The project will apply innovative techniques and environmental stewardship through the deployment of Canada's first high-voltage direct current submarine cable in fresh water, which will span over 100 kilometres across Great Slave Lake, the tenth-largest lake in the world. Phase one will include a 60-megawatt expansion and a transmission line to connect the existing Taltson facility in the southeast part of the Northwest Territories to the Snare hydro system on the north side of Great Slave Lake.
This expansion would allow for the transmission line to be incorporated into the proposed Slave geological province access corridor, with a combined benefit of increased road access for more efficient resupply and development in mines in this resource-rich region, while reduced energy costs through the Taltson project would completely transform the investment environment for industry and the economic future of the territory.
The Taltson River currently has 18 megawatts of installed hydro power, but has 200 megawatts of potential that could be harnessed under the phased-in approach. All phases will rely on run-of-the-river technology without the need for new flooding.
The Government of Northwest Territories has been in discussions with Environment Canada regarding funding support for preliminary work, including—