Forevermark U.S. organized and paid for the writer’s trip. The company had no input on the content of the article.
JAMES BAY LOWLANDS, ONT. — The giant hole in the ground, visible several kilometres away from the vantage point of a jet-propelled plane, looks empty and cold, a desolate no-man’s land.
But as the tiny aircraft closes in, descending on a nearby airstrip, the lunar-like crater can be seen pulsing with life. People scurry below on foot or in trucks and behind forklifts. The Victor mine, located on a stretch of boggy muskeg in Northern Ontario, is a hive of activity. The open pit yields diamonds, among the best in the world. It also provides jobs.
Hundreds of the jobs have been taken up by Canadians as well as foreigners from as far away as South Africa, one outpost of London-based diamond giant De Beers SA, which has been operating Ontario’s first diamond mine in the James Bay Lowlands since 2008.
The multinational work force at Victor includes members of the country’s indigenous population, among them the Mushkegowuk Cree and the Attawapiskat First Nation on whose traditional territory the Victor mine, and the recently proposed Tango Extension, are located. About one-third of the employees at Victor are from local First Nations communities.
“We have 420 people working here, including around 180 contractors who work 365 days a year, 24/7. It’s a continuous operation and it doesn’t stop,” says Victor general manager James Kirby, a transplant from South Africa.
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