Attawapiskat First Nation versus De Beers Diamond Mine

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2206 ... October 2, 2020

Attawapiskat First Nation versus De Beers Diamond Mine:
Massive Garbage Dump in Fragile Wetlands Habitat?

Attawapiskat First Nation

In May 2019, production at De Beer’s Victor diamond mine on the traditional territories of Attawapiskat First Nation came to an end. In all, more than 8 million carats of diamonds were taken from the giant open pit mine, generating billions in revenues for the mine’s owners, leaving behind a legacy of pollution and broken promises for the near-by community. For all its promise, the Victor mine failed to deliver much in the way of prosperity to the impoverished Attawapiskat First Nation, which declared an emergency over water quality just two months after the mine closed. Documents showed that Attawapiskat’s diamond royalties, earned as part of an Impact-Benefits Agreement with the company, amounted to less than 1 per cent of the mine’s annual revenues.

The wider public did not retain much either: In 2013-14, the company paid a provincial royalty of just $226 against revenues in the hundreds of millions. De Beers proved what little regard... it had for the community and environment when it failed to report toxic levels of mercury and methylmercury in the waters surrounding the mine. Now, adding insult to injury, the company is seeking permission from the Ontario government to construct a third landfill site where it wants to dump the "waste" it no longer needs to turn a profit. Attawapiskat First Nation has every reason to firmly reject the proposal. — Bullet editors

De Beers Canada (DBC) is seeking Ontario Government approval for a third landfill waste site to be built and filled up at the Victor Mine Site, located in a vulnerable James Bay wetlands area, and in a place of critical importance to Attawapiskat. The Victor Mine is now in the closure phase, where decommissioning and remediation are supposed to leave the landscape in a clean and safe state. The mine operated from 2005 to 2019 and with an annual production rate is 2.7 million tonnes a year, or about 600,000 carats a year in diamond grade.

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