De Beers reps meet with protesters at Attawapiskat blockade

The De Beers Canada Victor Mine, located in northern Ontario, is the province's first diamond mine.

Credits: CNW Group/De Beers Canada Corporation


TIMMINS, Ont. - De Beers officials have met with Attawapiskat community members in an attempt to end a Native protest that's blocked access to its northern Ontario diamond mine since Monday night.

The 16 protesters have not spoken publicly, but De Beers said their issues relate to employment at the mine and training opportunities.

"We have local management from the mine meeting with those involved and we even participated in an open community meeting," Tom Ormsby, director of external and corporate affairs for De Beers Canada told QMI Agency.

The Victor mine project is about 90 km from the embattled First Nations community.

About 100 members of the reserve work at the mine but it's been a source of division since it opened about five years ago.

Despite an impact-benefit agreement signed after several years of negotiation that includes regular payments to a trust fund for the community, and at least $300 million worth of other business dealings with the reserve over the past few years, some in Attawapiskat say only some community members are actually benefiting from the Victor diamond mine.

While the mine has been able to continue operating, De Beers said the blockade has prevented new supplies from being brought in, which may affect operations if it continues.

De Beers said it has received no assurance the blockade would end anytime soon.

"We are all hopeful a resolution will be found swiftly so we can resume our program as soon as possible," Ormsby said.

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