NORTHERN ONTARIO – The ATTAWAPISKAT FIRST NATION has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) reached between that organization and DE BEERS CANADA of Toronto. The IBA covers De Beers’ Victor diamond project, 90 km west of the Attawapiskat community in the James Bay lowlands.
The agreement sets out the benefits the community will receive from the project and details how the impacts will be mitigated. It includes commitments from the company regarding training and education, employment and business opportunities, environmental management, social and cultural issues and financial compensation.
In May 2004, De Beers received conditional approval for the $982 million needed to build the mine. De Beers has already spent $140 million, much of this directly in Northern Ontario, to develop the project and plans to begin construction of the mine early in 2006. The mine will employ about 600 people during construction and 400 permanent positions will be created during operations.
Funding for the project is conditional upon completion of the environmental assessment (EA) which has been on-going for three years. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency recently released the Comprehensive Study Report (CSR) presenting the outcomes of the environmental assessment process, and the public has until July 11, 2005, to submit final comments on the CSR. Federal government approval of the EA will provide the community the assurance that the regulators are satisfied with the steps outlined in this assessment to address the environmental issues. Following EA approval, the IBA will be signed by the community and De Beers Canada. Both parties are hopeful
that the EA will be approved in time for construction to begin in January 2006.
Both De Beers’ Victor diamond mine and its Snap Lake diamond mine in the Northwest Territories are scheduled for commercial production in 2007. See www.DeBeersCanada.com.