EDITORIAL: Short-sighted blockades may have negative impact – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – February 27, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

“The illegal blockade of the ice road to the Victor diamond mine drew
international attention, tarring the region with a sense of lawlessness
and economic risk for investors.” (Ron Grech – Timmins Daily Press)

TIMMINS – After being stalled for nearly three weeks because of blockades, De Beers says it may not be able to deliver a year’s worth of supplies required by the Victor diamond mine before the ice road begins to melt.

If that happens, the mine may be looking at temporary shutdowns and layoffs at some point during their normal operating season. That may pose a short-term problem that has long-term implications on the future of the mine.

The challenge is convincing De Beers’ decision-makers in South Africa the prospects in Attawapiskat are worth the trouble of investing in exploration to extend the life of the mine beyond 2018.

The illegal blockade of the ice road to the Victor diamond mine drew international attention, tarring the region with a sense of lawlessness and economic risk for investors.

Companies are never keen to invest millions of dollars in regions where vital business operations are interrupted, court orders are defied and community leaders regularly seek to re-negotiate terms of previously signed agreements.

As Timmins Superior Court Judge Robert Riopelle astutely pointed out Friday, if the Impact Benefit Agreement was as bad as Chief Theresa Spence and the blockade members claimed in court, why didn’t Attawapiskat’s legal representatives address them before the agreement was signed?

That may seem like water under the bridge at this point.

After all, the blockade ended Friday night, police are patrolling the ice road and De Beers trucks are rolling and the hope is everything the mine requires will be delivered before the ice road begins to melt.

The key issue now is damage control – not just for De Beers but Attawapiskat First Nation.

Short-sighted individuals will question the need for First Nations to attract industry since it runs counter to a more traditional and preferred way of life.

But industry, whether the residents want to admit it or not, provides the best opportunity for pulling many of these communities out of poverty and providing them with the economic stimulus and quality of housing and health care that is long overdue.

For the original version of this editorial, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: http://www.timminspress.com/2013/02/26/short-sighted-blockades-may-have-negative-impact

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