Blockade halts traffic to diamond mine – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – February 6, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – A team of De Beers executives were scrambling late Tuesday afternoon to meet with a small number of protesters in Attawapiskat who had been blockading the winter road into the Victor diamond mine since Monday night.

While the mine was able to continue operating, company officials reported the blockade was preventing supplies from being brought to the mine.

“Currently the operations of the mine are not interrupted but the work on the road is interrupted – so the resupply to the mine is standing down until it is resolved,” Ashley Brown, senior communications specialist with De Beers, told The Daily Press.

Supply trucks stopped on the road by protesters were carrying “non-perishable consumables like fuel and oil and different mechanical parts, and tires and camp items and new equipment and that sort of stuff,” Brown added. “We use the winter road for those sort of things that are too heavy to economically fly into the mine.”

He said the company was sending an “executive team” to hold talks with the protesters in an effort to resolve the conflict. Brown said the protesters had provided no indication of how long they intended to maintain the blockade. The mine, located about 100 kilometres outside the First Nations community, has long been a divisive presence for many members of the band.

Despite an impact-benefit agreement signed after several years of negotiation, many in the First Nation community still believe they are being cheated out the diamond mine’s profits.

For the original version of this article, please go to the Timmins Daily Press website: