Blockade protesters seek new agreement – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – February 20, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

ATTAWAPISKAT – The people behind the latest blockade on the ice road to Victor diamond mine are demanding Tony Guthrie, president of De Beers Canada, sign an agreement with the demonstrators.

However, a company spokesman said that is unlikely to happen. Tom Ormsby, director of external and corporate affairs, told The Daily Press the company already has dispute-settlement procedures in place and agreed to review with community members the benefit agreement package signed with the First Nation as recent as this past summer.

Ormsby said latest demand runs “contrary” to previous agreements they have made with the community. “This is a new set of requests that doesn’t align with what we’ve agreed to.”

The demonstrators are demanding the creation of a “joint dispute resolution committee” that would address issues such as employment and training, housing, and compensation for community members whose traplines are located near the mine site.

The demands were faxed to the company. The blockade, located at a turnoff about 100 kilometres from the Victor mine, remains in place despite the fact De Beers won a court injunction in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Friday prohibiting anyone from obstructing access to the south winter ice road leading to the mine site.

The road generally provides a 45-day window for De Beers to bring heavy supplies such as fuel and equipment to the mine.

However, the company has been prevented from using for more than two weeks now as a result of two separate blockades that were set up.

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