TIMMINS – You can’t blame De Beers Canada for hinging the future of its proposed Tango mining project on support from the community of Attawapiskat. After all, when you are operating a mine on the James Bay Coast, discontent among residents can fuel ice-road blockades and costly delays in operation.
De Beers knows first-hand about the cost of such delays, having endured blockades on the ice road in the past, often at the hands of disgruntled former employees who were demonstrating over a personal demand.
With the Victor Mine winding down operations, it makes sense for De Beers to be working towards a smooth transition from anticipated closure of the mine in 2018 to the opening of its new Tango Extension. De Beers, which has been working on the Tango Extension for the past five years, is keen on meeting its timelines.
However, last week the company let it be known that it would not consider going forward with the Tango Extension without the community’s consent, which newly-elected chief, Ignace Gull, interpreted as a threat and an ultimatum.
Let’s be clear about this: De Beers is not legally obliged to get Attawapiskat’s consent to proceed with the Tango Extension project. The company’s legal obligation is to consult with the community.
However, many First Nations are becoming increasingly adamant that companies and governments get their prior consent before any resource project can go ahead inside their territory, even though legally all that is required is to consult them.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.timminspress.com/2016/09/20/opinion-priorities-misplaced-if-overlooking-benefits-of-new-mine