The Tlicho Government ended its freeze on the Gahcho Kué diamond mine 280 km north of Yellowknife last week, nodding its support of the project with the signing of an impact benefit agreement with proponents De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds.
The agreement sets out a framework for how the parties will work together throughout the mine life, and promises Tlicho members access to economic opportunities provided by the project.
“This agreement confirms our relationship with De Beers, so that we will work together over the life of the mine to ensure there are many training, employment and business opportunities from the project for Tlicho citizens,” Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus said in a press release.
“It also includes financial provisions that enable the Tlicho Government to participate in the opportunities that the project provides.”
The Tlicho are the second Aboriginal group to sign an IBA with the company on the mine, which received federal approval last October. The North Slave Métis Alliance signed an agreement with De Beers last July.
As of last summer, the Tlicho Government, along with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation and Deninu Kué First Nation, opposed the mine project, arguing that the review board’s report did not provide adequate measures for the protection of wildlife and cultural activities or reclamation.
The mine will require the draining of Kennady Lake and the construction of a winter road that critics say could disrupt barren ground caribou migration.
Greg Koropchuk, chief operating officer for Gahcho Kué, said the Tlicho Government’s support is important moving forward.
“This impact benefit agreement builds on the relationship we have already established for the Snap Lake Mine and confirms our commitment to work together for the benefit of the Tlicho people with the Gahcho Kué project,” he said in a press release.
De Beers says the mine will employ close to 700 people during its two-year construction phase and close to 400 during its estimated 11 years of operations, during which 31 million tonnes of ore containing an estimated 49 million carats will be mined.