Premier Gordon Campbell has announced the Province of British Columbia will immediately start the environmental assessment process and First Nations consultation on the Northwest Transmission Line along Highway 37. This is the first step toward building a powerline that has the potential to generate billions of dollars in capital investment, create thousands of new jobs and open economic opportunities on a global scale in the Northwest.

"The communities in the North have a vision to further open their region to economic opportunities on a global scale, and today I want them to know that we share their vision and we are going to pursue the Northwest Transmission Line," said Premier Campbell, who made the announcement during his annual Union of B.C. Municipalities address. "According to the Mining Association of BC, this project has the potential to attract $15 billion in new capital investments and create almost 11,000 jobs, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the reliance on dirty diesel-electric power for industry and communities in that region."

The Province will invest the estimated $10 million to immediately restart the environmental assessment process, the first step towards building the Northwest Transmission Line (NTL). The new 287-kV line will extend 335 km from Terrace to Meziadin Junction and north to Bob Quinn Lake, providing access to the electricity grid for customers while supporting the economic diversification of the area.

Currently, the electrical power grid along Highway 37 ends at Meziadin Junction to the north and Stewart to the west.

"The electrification of Highway 37 is an important part of the ongoing economic diversification of rural British Columbia," said Campbell. "It builds on the success we're already seeing in the Northwest, including the new container port in Prince Rupert, the resurgence of the mining industry and the potential new Alcan smelter. We're making the investments needed now to continue that growth and help communities seize opportunities to diversify and create jobs."

The environmental assessment is the first stage of the project and must be complete before construction begins. The Province is still seeking a partnership with the private sector to fund the total project, which is estimated to cost approximately $400 million.

Gross mining revenue in B.C. has nearly doubled over the last seven years, from $3.6 billion to nearly $7 billion, and 10 new mines have opened in that time. Investment in mineral exploration soared to a record high of nearly $416 million in 2007, up 1,300 percent since 2001.