De Beers and community come to terms over Snap Lake

De Beers has reached an impact benefit agreement with the aboriginal communities of Canada’s Northwest Territories over the diamond giant’s Snap Lake mine.

The agreement with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, which represents two communities in the Northwest Territories, was signed on Monday.

The impact benefit agreement sets out the benefits that the Yellowknives Dene will receive from the Snap Lake Project in terms of employment, business opportunities, training and development, and financial compensation for loss of the use of the land while it is being mined, De Beers said in statement. The agreement was reached after three years of negotiations.

“We have managed our business to ensure that the Yellowknives Dene experience tangible benefits from the Snap Lake Project,” said John McConnell, vice president–NWT Projects.

“We are now satisfied that we have reached a final agreement that will benefit the Yellowknives Dene First Nation through employment, training, and business opportunities for the life of this mine at Snap Lake,” said Yellowknives chief Peter Liske. “It’s a good agreement.”

“This agreement gives us the opportunity to provide good jobs, training, and business opportunities for our people, while we maintain and practice our traditional way of life in Drygeese Territory,” said Fred Sangris, chief for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation Ndilo. “We know De Beers will respect the land, water, animals, environment, and the spirit of intent in this agreement for the life of the mine at Snap Lake.”

Richard Molyneux, president and CEO of De Beers Canada Inc., said, “This IBA with the Yellowknives Dene reflects our commitment to ensure that the aboriginal groups impacted by the Snap Lake Project benefit from the project through participation.”

The Snap Lake mine is expected to employ 500 people during full production, and to produce 1.5 million carats per year. It is the first completely underground diamond mine in Canada and will be De Beers’ first mine outside of Africa.

The mine is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2007, with full production in 2008.

The Impact Benefit Agreement was signed in Ndilo. A formal signing ceremony involving the community is scheduled to take place in Dettah on New Year’s Day.

Yelllowknives Dene First Nation’s mission is to preserve, promote, and continue developing the aboriginal and treaty rights, the language, culture, and economy of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The Yellowknives Dene are represented by two communities called Ndilo and Dettah on the north shore of the Great Slave Lake, in the Northwest Territories, Canada.