De Beers does the unthinkable – by Gary Vivian (Northern News Service – December 14, 2015)

Guest Editorial by Gary Vivian, President, NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

De Beers deserves a huge thank you from Northerners for doing what many might believe is the unthinkable. Let me be the first to say it: “Thank you De Beers for Snap Lake”. Lest readers think that I mean closing their mine, I do not. What is quite unthinkable is this.

De Beers came to the NWT in 2005 and brought with them $975 million of their own money to build a diamond mine.

They spent that, and went on to spend over $2.3 billion to construct and operate the mine. Through their supportive northern business policy, they spent over $1.5 billion with northern businesses and joint ventures.

Last year alone, Snap Lake spent $126 million with northern companies, including $50 million with Aboriginal businesses and joint ventures. This has helped these companies employ even more people and it has generated significant taxes along the way to governments, including the Tlicho Government.

Over this same period, De Beers provided employment for over 700 people annually. These are some of the highest paying jobs in the country, with generous northern cost of living allowances, pensions and medical plans.

They have provided employees with professional counselling, family support, financial planning support, health coaching, smoking cessation, relationship support, stress management and alcohol and drug awareness training.

The mine provided over 7,000 person years of meaningful employment over the life of the mine. They have also invested in training programs, both on site and off site, to help more northerners get jobs.

Because of Snap Lake De Beers has been able to provide significant sponsorships and donations to a host of grateful community organizations.

In 2014 alone, they spent a quarter million dollars to support events, programs and activities in 11 NWT communities to support arts, culture and heritage programs as well as a book program to promote literacy.

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