Protesters block ice road leading to diamond mine near Attawapiskat

Global News, Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Aerial view of De Beers Canada Victor diamond mine, 90 km from the Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario.

Aerial view of De Beers Canada Victor diamond mine, 90 km from the Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario.

Protesters are closing off an ice road leading to the De Beers diamond mine near Attawapiskat, Global News has confirmed.

The blockade began around midnight Tuesday morning, according to one source familiar with the situation.

The company says the mine is still operating normally. External and corporate affairs director Tom Ormsby told Global News that a “local mine-based team” is heading to the scene to investigate.

“Our mine is 100 kilometres away over the ice road so it takes a bit of time to organize that unscheduled travel and it’s meant for freight & fuel and not employee travel,” Ormsby said in an e-mail.

According to Ormsby, the winter road is used for 30 days out of the year for its “re-supply program.” It delivers larger and “predictable” items, as well as “non-perishable consumables (i.e. – lube & oil, parts, hoses, tires, camp items, any new equipment, etc.) that we use over the course of the year. We also re-supply fuel at the mine that is used by our mobile fleet.”

Some of the corporations the Attawapiskat band has investments in through its trust fund established with money from the De Beers mine.

Some of the corporations the Attawapiskat band has investments in through its trust fund established with money from the De Beers mine.

Due to the protest blockade, the re-supply program has been suspended.

The rest of the year, other supplies, such as perishable items like food, and emergency critical parts, are flown in.

The diamond giant opened the Victor Mine in June 2008, about 90 kilometres west of the reserve.

Prior to that, De Beers and Attawapiskat spent years clashing over how the proposed diamond mine would benefit the community. Construction on the mine began in 2006.

The company and both levels of government contributed to training funds, with De Beers covering the cost of shoring up Attawapiskat’s negotiating team. They signed an impact benefits agreement that sent $325 million flowing to community members over the past six years.

One of the shacks residents of Attawapiskat have constructed in response to housing shortage.

One of the shacks residents of Attawapiskat have constructed in response to housing shortage.

Now, about 20 per cent of the Victor Mine workforce – about 100 people – is from Attawapiskat. Contracts and business connections with the First Nation meant another $53 million flowed into that community of 1,800 people in 2011 alone.

De Beers says the Victor Mine is Ontario’s first diamond mine, and the company’s second in Canada.

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Posted on February 5, 2013, in Mining and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thank you for the report! :D Sharing.

  2. keepersofthewater

    Reblogged this on Keepers of the Water.

  3. $378 million in 6 years… for 1800 people… and they’re blocking the road WHY???????? Absolutely INSANE!!!!!!

    • There are some reasons stated in the update on this post. They include an assertion that this money derived from agreements with De Beers, only benefits a few in the band. Some of the blockaders are also reported to be former employees of the mine who claim they faced racism and were fired by the company.

    • how can you say insane, when you don’t even know the detail’s, jus another Canadian that has no idea,whats going on in his country, someone with his head up his ass, like so many other Canadians.

  4. At a certain point, I don’t see how so many Canadians can default to claims about legal ownership and property rights. At the end of the day, it’s inconceivable that there should be so much poverty next to so lucrative a mine – especially when that mine resides on native land.

    • There is a lucrative mine there because people got off their ass and went to work! Things do not get built by blocking roads and demanding unearned money! Apply for a job, do an honest day’s work and feed your family instead of depending on the government to feed you.
      Don Tambeau

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