by Greg Klein | December 15, 2014
Proponents of the world’s largest diamond mining development project have signed an impact benefit agreement with a Northwest Territories Metis band. Announced December 15 by Gahcho Kué operator De Beers and the Northwest Territory Metis Nation, the two groups will “work together over the life of the mine to develop economic, environmental and cultural programs.”
The mine, a joint venture with Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV in the NWT’s Lac de Gras region, has production scheduled for 2016. Two years of construction will employ nearly 700 workers, while operation will require approximately 400 people.
NWT Metis Nation president Garry Bailey said the agreement “will provide socio-economic benefits including employment, training and business opportunities for our indigenous Metis members on an equitable basis as other aboriginal parties with IBAs.”
The group’s website traces their background to “French and mixed-blood coureurs de bois [who] travelled into the Athabasca country, living with Dene and Cree families” before the fall of Quebec in 1763.
The Lac de Gras region currently has three diamond mines in operation. Together they employed 3,109 workers in 2013, according to numbers released last month by the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines. Of that total, 1,430 workers were northerners and 752 (53% of the northern total) were aboriginal.
Since 1996, NWT diamond mining created nearly 44,000 person-years of employment, the chamber stated. Half the total went to northerners, and half the northern total to aboriginals.
Additionally, diamond royalties have delivered $39 million to three aboriginal groups. “Royalty sharing with aboriginal groups will be increasing as the NWT government has committed to share 25% of the royalties they collect with aboriginal signatories to the devolution agreement” with the federal government, the chamber added.
Besides the three diamond mines, the NWT hosts Cantung, “one of the largest operating tungsten mines outside of China,” according to North American Tungsten TSXV:NTC.