ATTAWAPISKAT – Plans for an expansion of the Victor diamond mine north of Timmins have been put on indefinite hold by De Beers Canada after the mining company failed to get the support for the project it was seeking from the Attawapiskat First Nation.
The Tango Extension, as the project was called, would have allowed the Victor Mine to continue producing diamonds past its expected closure at the end of 2018. However, despite the company’s efforts, the First Nation’s government, headed by Chief Ignace Gull, never warmed to the project.
Tom Ormsby, De Beers’ head of external and corporate affairs, put a positive spin on the company’s decision to put the Tango Extension aside by saying it was a “refocusing of priorities.” Instead of continuing to work towards making the Tango Extension a reality, De Beers hopes to make use of the leftover low-grade ore that has already been mined.
“We’re sort of parking Tango as a project for now, and we’re focusing on our low-grade stockpiles. We have several million tonnes of low-grade there that’s never been processed. It’s been building up over the life of the mine,” said Ormsby.
“So we’re actually running some studies right now on trying to bring in these stockpiles. And if we can prove it’s economic, and get the cost down, and get it ready by the time the mine closes in 2018, those stockpiles could add years of processing and activity at the mine.”
Ideally, De Beers would have liked to continue working on opening a new mine pit, such as the Tango Extension, instead of trying to find more diamonds in rocks that would normally be considered waste material.
But De Beers committed itself publicly to not going ahead with the project without consent from Attawapiskat, and in the end, said Ormsby, Tango had to be put aside because it doesn’t seem like that consent will be coming soon.
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