Archive | Diamond Mining

Attawapiskat: await the audit – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – December 2, 2011)

The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

HOW does a remote native community of 2,000 people that receives $18 million a year in federal funds alone — $90 million in total since 2006 — wind up in such a wretched state? Attawapiskat on the James Bay coast is not alone among reserves in poverty, but it’s housing conditions are top of mind across Canada as winter sets in. Large families living in shacks and tents is a national disgrace.

Uninformed critics blame the band council without knowing the details. Those details will shed light where it belongs, but everyone must wait for that information before coming to conclusions.

Others say the Harper government is blaming the victim, so to speak, for taking control of local spending out of the band’s hands and ordering an audit. This examination of spending will look at where it comes from as well as where it goes. The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development department will thus be under as much scrutiny as the band itself. This alone may prove to be the most illuminating aspect of the audit, for it could shed light on a system of bureaucracy that First Nations have long complained is too complicated and restrictive. Continue Reading →

Debeers Representative Tom Ormsby Speaks to CBC Radio/TV About Attawapiskat Crisis

The housing crisis in Attawapiskat has some wondering why the community isn’t benefitting more from the nearby diamond mine. DeBeers Canada Director of External and Corporate Affairs Tom Ormsby spoke with various CBC Radio and TV interviewers:

CBC Televion Interview between Tom Ormsby and Suhana Meharchand – November 30, 2011

CBC Radio Ottawa – November 30, 2011:

(This radio clip also includes commentary from Gilles Bisson, NDP member for Timmins-James Bay that includes the Attawapiskat First Nation.

CBC Radio Sudbury – December 1, 2011:

Resource agreements balance [Aboriginal] heritage with economic development – by Ryan Lux (Timmins Daily Press – October 27, 2011)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Mining activity is providing a ray of sunshine in a region where little economic activity has occurred in the past 30 years, said a manager with De Beers Canada.

Shannin Metatwabin was one of the speakers at this week’s Mining Ready Summit in Timmins which brought First Nations together with representatives from Ontario’s mining sector. Metatwabin manages Aboriginal affairs and sustainability for De Beers’ Victor Lake Mine, 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat.

Originally from Fort Albany, Metatwabin said he feels as though he has a stake in the development and wants the region’s people to see benefits.

Explorations near Attawapiskat began in 1985 and the Victor Lake Mine didn’t go into production until 2008. Metatwabin said during the intervening years De Beers worked hard at educating communities on mining and developing residents’ employment capacity. Continue Reading →

Symbol of Ontario legislative authority goes on a summer vacation to the James Bay coast

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The ceremonial Mace from the Ontario Legislature, which is adorned with two diamonds from De Beers Canada’s Victor Mine near Attawapiskat, went on a summer vacation earlier this month.  This symbol of authority at Queen’s Park made its first trip outside the Legislature since 1867 and toured the Victor Mine and communities on the James Bay coast. 

The first and second diamonds mined, cut and polished in Ontario, which were donated by De Beers Canada, were encrusted in the Mace when it was refurbished in 2009.  Accompanying the Mace on its rare summer vacation were Speaker of the Ontario Legislature Steve Peters, his Sergeant-at-Arms, Queen’s Park officials and the local MPP for Timmins-James Bay Gilles Bisson.

“Visiting the Victor Mine was an excellent opportunity to bring the diamonds, which grace the Ontario Legislature’s Mace, back to the people who mined them and the First Nations whose lands the diamonds came from,” said Mr. Peters, who also served as Ontario’s Minister of Labour from 2005 to 2007.  “The health and safety practiced by De Beers is commendable and something every organization and company should aspire to attain.”   Continue Reading →

Ontario Shines as Canada’s Diamond Capital

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Ontario is home to more diamond projects than any other jurisdiction in Canada.  While Ontario has one producing diamond operation, De Beers Canada’s Victor Mine near Attawapiskat, it is home to 131, or 24% of all diamond projects in the country.  There are more than 533 active diamond projects in Canada ranging from grassroots exploration to advanced development to producing mines.

Following Ontario, the Northwest Territories hosts 111 diamond projects, or 20% of the Canadian total, and Nunavut hosts 100 diamond projects, or 19% of the national total. Quebec is home to 84 diamond projects, or 16% of the total.  Following in order of diamond activity are Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon Territory.

The total number of companies exploring for diamonds in Canada is 252 and 180 of those companies are listed on stock exchanges.  There are four operating diamond mines in Canada – Diavik, Ekati and Snap Lake in the Northwest Territories and Victor in Ontario. Continue Reading →

Russian Hydrology Student Particpates in De Beers Peatlands Reseach at Northern Ontario Diamond Mine

Russian Hydrology Student Yulia Orlova at De Beers Canada's Victor Diamond Mine

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Russian graduate student Yulia Orlova hopes to take lessons she is learning about muskeg at De Beers Canada’s Victor Mine home to better understand the dynamics of  Siberian peatlands.  She came to Canada last year and started her Masters in Geography at the University of Toronto.  Ms. Orlova is researching the impact of mine dewatering and mercury in peatlands under the direction of U of T professor Brian Branfireun.  This is one of the major research projects De Beers Canada’s Victor Mine is helping to sponsor.   

The 26 year old native of St. Petersburg graduated from St. Petersburg State University with a degree in hydrology.  She worked for three years both for the Russian government and a non-governmental environmental agency before continuing her studies in Canada. 

“There is expertise in Canada on peatlands and funding support and there were more opportunities to do research in my area.” – Russian Hydrology Student Yulia Orlova

“I wanted to come to Canada to study here,” said Ms. Orlova.  “There is expertise in Canada on peatlands and funding support and there were more opportunities to do research in my area.”  To complete her thesis on the hydrology of the James Bay lowlands, she collects and tests water samples from streams around the mine site and carries out analysis of the results and examines water chemistry.

Along with the academic component of her studies, Ms. Orlova, like all students and professors on the Victor site, is regularly engaged in safety training and orientation sessions.  Continue Reading →

De Beers Canada Victor Diamond Mine Doubles as Environmental Research Station

A casual observer could be forgiven for confusion over whether De Beers Canada’s Victor operation is Ontario’s first diamond mine, or a high-tech, sub-Arctic scientific research centre.  The mine itself has 13 employees dedicated to environment related jobs and at any time there could be at least 15 researchers on site.  Much of this ground breaking scientific work is related to commitments made in impact-benefit agreements with local First Nations.

In collaboration with five Canadian universities and various components of government, the Victor mine, which is located 1,070 kilometres north of Toronto near Attawapiskat, supports a number of independent but inter-related scientific research projects.  The mine invests $3.1 million annually in rehabilitation and environmental monitoring studies. 

Laurentian University, Queen’s University, University of Western Ontario, University of Waterloo and University of Toronto are all involved in various components of these research projects.  Professors along with PhD and Masters candidates from various disciplines are contributing to the advancement of knowledge about the James Bay lowlands and its ecology – knowledge that is shared for future benefit.

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De Beers Canada Victor Mine Creates Enormous Opportunities for Northern Ontario First Nations

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

 Ontario Mining Association member De Beers Canada’s Victor diamond mine is a sparkling example of promoting Aboriginal employment.  The Victor diamond mine, which is located about 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat in the James Bay lowlands, currently has 226 employees from First Nations, or 43% of its workforce.

More than 90 employees from this group are from Attawapiskat with large representation from Fort Albany, Moosonee and Moose Factory and Kashechewan and 40 are from First Nations outside the James Bay area.  In Canada, mining is the largest private sector employer of Aboriginals.  This group comprises 7.5% of the mining workforce, which is up from 3.6% of the country’s total mineral sector workforce in 2006.

The Victor Mine operates with three different impact-benefit agreements – one each with Attawapiskat, Fort Albany/Kashechewan and Moose Factory/Moosonee.  “Negotiating the impact-benefit agreement is the relatively easy bit, implementing it is the tough part and making sure everyone understands their role is more difficult,” said Jonathan Fowler, De Beers Canada Vice President Aboriginal Affairs and Sustainability. 

“One of our strengths is in striving to build a culture of diversity,” he added.  “We don’t believe in a having a specific percentage of First Nation employment.  We want to provide opportunities for people to grow and develop and the real target is to maximize First Nation employment.” Continue Reading →

Diamonds and Gold – A Common Past, Present and Future – by By Paul Stothart

Paul Stothart is vice-president, economic affairs of the Mining Association of Canada. He is responsible for advancing the industry’s interests regarding federal tax, trade, investment, transport and energy issues.

With due respect to cobalt and coal, it is fair to state that diamonds and gold are the world’s two most prestigious minerals.  They are the minerals that hold the deepest emotional meaning among consumers, with traditional and cultural ties to commitment, union, luck, love and marriage.  They are also the minerals that are most indicative of personal wealth, affluence, sophistication and social status.  These two minerals and the corresponding industries have long shared a number of similarities in terms of the surrounding market-drivers, price mark-ups and social pressures.     

For example, the fundamental driver of the global market in both gold and diamonds is jewelry.  According to the World Gold Council, fully 68% of the world’s demand for gold over the past five years was for use in jewelry.  While the delineation is less exact in diamonds, it is estimated that gem-quality diamonds used in jewelry account for over 80% of the value of the world diamond market. 

A second point, and the converse from the above, is to note that the industrial application market for diamonds and gold is relatively modest in size.  Only 14% of world gold demand stems from industrial uses (while the remaining 18% is for investment purposes).  While there are important industrial uses in dental, electronics, medical and environmental fields, and growing potential in nanotechnology, these industrial uses for gold face the challenge of being commercially feasible at raw material price points that are currently well north of $1000 per ounce.  Continue Reading →

De Beers Canada – Sustainable Mining Contributes to Northern Economies and Aboriginal Employment

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

De Beers Canada celebrated two official diamond mine openings back-to-back in July 2008 – the Victor Mine in Ontario and the Snap Lake Mine in the Northwest Territories. However, the path to those production start-ups took a circuitous and difficult journey of almost 50 years. It took vision, faith and dedication to complete the trek.

De Beers, which is acknowledged as the world’s leading diamond company, began in 1888 in South Africa. The company commenced its exploration activities in Canada in the early 1960s with a staff of four. The first geological field season for De Beers in Canada was 1961.

If you move forward almost half a century to 2009 and De Beers Canada’s first full year of production, you can look at the results. From an operational standpoint, Victor turned out 696,000 carats and Snap Lake produced 444,000 carats for a total diamond output of 1,140,000 carats. This led to a revenue of $316.4 million ($243.7 Victor and $72.7 Snap Lake).

Continue Reading →

Diamond Industry Grinds to a Halt – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The global diamond industry is suffering the same economic downturn as the rest of the world. Consumers who may be out of work or watching their investments shrink are in no mood to buy luxury goods. The result is falling diamond prices as demand shrinks.

Diamond prices have been under pressure for over a year. One Canadian producer has already bit the dust. Tahera Diamond Corp. closed its Jericho mine in Nunavut and filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in January 2008. Its assets are for sale.

Even the largest diamond producer is feeling the pinch. Word has reached us from Diamond World Magazine of Mumbai, India, that De Beers Canada plans to suspend operations at its Snap Lake mine in the Northwest Territories for a total of 10 weeks this year. This is on top of the 105 contract workers that were laid off in November 2008. Remaining employees will be asked to take vacations or accept salary adjustments to cover a six-week closure this summer and a further four-week closure at the end of this year.

De Beers January sales of rough diamonds to selected customers was at a 25-year low. The January 2008 sales garnered $650 million, but this year’s offering drew only an estimated $80 million to $150 million. The drop is a reflection of the depth of economic woes in the United States, where consumers purchase 50% of the world’s diamonds.

I’ll do my part to support the diamond industry. I’m saving towards the purchase of a Canadian diamond. Too bad the federal budget didn’t offer a tax credit for buying Canadian luxury goods.

Diamonds, Diamonds Everywhere – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Imagine finding an exceptional, gem-quality white diamond weighing 189.6 carats. ROCKWELL DIAMONDS of Vancouver has done exactly that at its Klipdam mine near Kimberley, South Africa. The company reports that the stone is “oval in shape, somewhat flattened and strongly resorbed, and shows features typical of top colour high-value Type-2 gemstones.”

That description is sure to get everyone’s attention. So will the pictures of diamonds as large as 212-ct in the Diamond Gallery at

No less worthy of attention are recent exploration efforts for Canadian diamonds. Teams are finding diamonds and kimberlites at an astonishing rate this summer. Here are a few of them.

Vancouver’s COMMITTEE BAY RESOURCES and INDICATOR MINERALS reported the discovery of kimberlite boulders at the Borden project in Nunavut. Indicator minerals were visually identified in the float, and samples of the boulders have been sent for analysis.

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Excerpt From Michael Barnes New Book – More Than Free Gold:Mineral Exploration in Canada Since World War II

More Than Free Gold - Michael Barnes

Our Best Friend
Kimberlites with Diamonds

With the discovery of diamonds in the kimberlite bodies of the Lac de Gras district in the N.W.T., Canada emerged as a major diamond producer, challenging South Africa, Botswana, Australia and Russia in both quality and quantity of diamond production.

Diamond hunting is difficult because kimberlite outcrops are rare, due to the fact that the rock is easily eroded; often a chunk of the stuff will crumble in the hand.

The big mining news in the eighties was of the gold at Hemlo, but in that decade two men were searching for a much more elusive quarry. Veteran prospector Chuck Fipke and geologist Dr. Stu Blusson spent all they had and all they could borrow to finance a quest for diamonds.

Continue Reading →