The potential development of Ontario’s first diamond mine was put on hold in July.
In a surprise move, the Attawapiskat First Nations community told De Beers Canada Corp. it had decided to suspend its consultation process with De Beers.
With exploration at the Victor diamond site complete, DeBeers and its engineering consultants are in the midst of a pre-feasibility study to determine if it is worth building a mine in a muskeg area about 90 kilometres inland from Attawapiskat. The study is expected to be wrapped up by either October or November, at which time the decision was to have been made to proceed to a full-blown feasibility study likely to take 12 to 18 months. If the project were approved by the board of directors, construction could begin in 2005-06, with an eventual mine operating life of 11 to 12 years. To date, the company has invested about $40 million to excavate 9,650 tonnes of kimberlite rock at the Victor project.
The First Nation intends to seek legal advice and carry out an independent internal review on the matter. The First Nation terminated the community consultation process claiming both federal and provincial governments have not adequately consulted with them.
The community of 1,600 wants to protect their hunting, fishing and trapping territory, and claim they have not been properly served by the De Beers’ agreement. An official with the company says the issues of Aboriginal treaty rights seems to be a shift in focus from the previous First Nations’ agenda.