De Beers threatens legal action – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – February 14, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

ATTAWAPISKAT – De Beers officials are getting fed up with the repeated illegal blockades of the winter road leading to the Victor diamond mine.

Since the road opened 13 days ago, blockades have prevented supplies and equipment from being delivered for nine of those days. After resolving a blockade that began early last week, another one started up this week.

On Tuesday night, “representatives from De Beers Canada met with Attwapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence, in person, to deliver a formal letter to chief and council stating that is the community does not take immediate action to remove the current illegal blockade of the winter road leading to the De Beers Victor mine, we will pursue all options at our disposal, including legal action,” said Tom Ormsby, the company’s director of external and corporate affairs.

Ormsby said after meeting with the chief, De Beers officials went to the location of the blockade where they delivered a formal letter to those blocking the road, indicating the company’s intention to explore legal options. At last report, the blockade remains in place.

While the mine continues to operate at full capacity, Ormsby said there are economic implications to these disruptions that pose a serious threat to the future of the mine.

The road generally provides a 45-day window for the delivery of supplies and equipment required by the mine over the next 12 months.

Ormsby the disruptions pose a threat to those supplies being delivered and are adding costs which could have severe consequences on the future of the mine. These supplies include vehicles, equipment, oil and fuel.

“It’s critical that we complete the program,” said Ormsby. “If we don’t then there will likely be economic impacts on the mine and they will then cascade out to the communities because we use local suppliers, we use local employees. And if the mine is impacted, everybody is impacted.”

The added costs don’t help at a time when De Beers is exploring the economic feasibility of extending the life of the mine.

Presently, the mine, which is in its fifth year of operation, is expected to continue until 2018.

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