De Beers blockade ends at Attawapiskat

Credits: CNW Group/De Beers Canada Corporation


TIMMINS, ON -- A peaceful resolution has been reached in Attawapiskat as the illegal blockade to the De Beers Victor diamond mine was taken down by demonstrators late Friday.

A large number of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers were headed to the blockade to enforce a judge’s order to remove the barricades, but no formal action by police was needed as the barricade was no longer in place, Const. Marc Depatie told QMI Agency on Sunday.

"The protesters appear to have voluntarily complied with the Superior court order without further incident," he said.

Depatie said “teams of officers” were deployed from detachments throughout the region from Hearst, Ont., south to Black River-Matheson, Ont. There was also an emergency response team deployed from Thunder Bay, Ont.

Unconfirmed reports from Attawapiskat indicated there were about 40 OPP officers in the area.

The OPP will remain there and continue to patrol the ice road to ensure access to the Victor mine remains open, Depatie said.

When asked about the voluntary removal of the barricades by the demonstrators, Depatie said, “The judge was rather direct and articulate when he handed down his instructions” to police and “what the inevitable outcome would be if the protesters persisted with the blockade.”

At a hearing held in Timmins on Friday, Judge Robert Riopelle warned blockaders that police would be directed to lay charges against those responsible.“

Thankfully, a peaceful resolution was reached without any formal action by police,” Depatie said.

Tom Ormsby, director of external and corporate affairs for De Beers Canada, told QMI Agency transport trucks began moving materials to the mine Saturday morning using the re-opened ice road.

“The OPP is actively monitoring the situation with all the stakeholders involved with its provincial liaison team and by regular patrols of the Victor mine ice road by officers,” he said.

The company has about a year’s worth of heavy supplies – valued at approximately $30 million – that it needs to transport using the winter road from Moosonee, Ont., to the Victor mine. This includes oil, fuel, mining equipment and some explosive materials.“

"For us, it usually takes 30 days or more” to complete this delivery process, Ormsby said.

"That’s 24 hours a day, non-stop. Our priority right now is to just get the program completed. That will be our focus for the next little while.”

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