NWT and De Beers Sign Environmental and Social Pacts

May 26, 2004

NWT and De Beers Sign Environmental and Social Pacts

The government of the Northwest Territories of Canada has signed three agreements with De Beers Canada Mining, including an environmental agreement, a socio-economic agreement and an agreement to support the secondary diamond industry in the NWT. All are related to De Beers's Snap Lake mining project in NWT.

"The successful conclusion of these negotiations reaffirms the GNWT position that sustainable development of our natural resources is essential to the long-term economic, cultural and social well being of all NWT residents," says Brendan Bell, GNWT resources, wildlife and economic development minister. "I commend De Beers Canada for making a significant and meaningful contribution to the NWT through training and development, business opportunities and ongoing social investment."

"These agreements demonstrate that De Beers Canada and the GNWT are aligned in their commitment to sustainable development. Through the negotiations we have developed good working relationships with the GNWT and the aboriginal groups involved and we will ensure that these relationships continue to grow to the benefit of all NWT residents," says Richard Molyneux, president and CEO of De Beers Canada.

The De Beers Snap Lake environmental agreement was developed with the participation of local native groups, including the Yellowknives Dene Band, Lutsel K'e Dene Band, North Slave Metis Alliance, and Dogrib Treaty 11 Council and the Government of Canada. The agreement calls for the establishment of a monitoring agency, composed of the four affected aboriginal organizations, to oversee the environmental management of the project.

The agency will receive support from a science and technical panel, two traditional knowledge working groups (one for water and fisheries issues and one for wildlife and habitat issues) and a secretariat. De Beers will fund the agency and, during the first two years, its contribution will be supplemented with financial contributions from the governments of Canada and NWT. De Beers also will prepare environmental management plans and monitoring programs to ensure concerns are addressed.

The socio-economic agreement includes commitments regarding training, particularly in the areas of literacy, apprenticeships, and encouraging women's interest in nontraditional jobs and the establishment of the De Beers socio-economic monitoring agency. The agreement also identifies targets for NWT employment and business opportunities, which include a commitment to prioritize aboriginal hiring.

Snap Lake is scheduled to reach full production in 2008. The next step is for the federal minister of Indian affairs and northern development to sign the environmental agreement and issue a water license.

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