Attawapiskat eyes new deal with De Beers for reclamation work jobs – by Alan S. Hale (Timmins Daily Press – August 19, 2016)

Members of Attawapiskat First Nation are being asked to give the go-ahead to what the community’s economic development corporation is promoting as “major business venture … that could bring more benefits to the community as well as employment for many members.”

According to a letter sent out to all of the First Nation’s members by the corporation, Attawapiskat Enterprises, the business venture in question is having the Indigenous community directly involved in the site remediation projects after the closure of De Beers’ Victor Mine.

The diamond mine is set to cease operation in 2018, which the development corporation points out will mean that all the jobs it has brought to the community will leave with it, as well as putting the future of their winter road in question.

“Rather than see that happen,” reads the letter to Attawapiskat members. “Attawapiskat Enterprises has been in very positive discussions with De Beers about having Attawapiskat First Nation get directly involved in the remaining work and follow-up projects at Victor. We are also considering increased involvement and operation of a second site, known as the ‘Tango Extension,’ located at the Victor Mine site 7 kilometres from the main camp.”

The Tango Extension is a kimberlite (diamond-bearing rock) site which, if developed, could extend the life of De Beers’ mining operations inside Attawapiskat’s traditional territory. The environmental assessment for that project remains ongoing.

The prospect of having Attawapiskat increasing its involvement in diamond mining with the Tango Extension is particularly interesting because as recently as last fall, a vocal group of Attawapiskat members were openly skeptical that the environment inside their territory would be able to handle a second mining operation so close to the first.

The letter indicates that the development corporation wants to see work on the new site fast-tracked.

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