Diamonds in Northern Ontario: Fighting for Responsible Mining

MiningWatch Canada, along with Nishinawbe Aski Nation (NAN), Northwatch and Mushkegowuk Tribal Council have filed highly critical comments on the plan for an environmental assessment of De Beers' Victor Project at Attawapiskat on James Bay.

The Victor Project is a very significant mining proposal in Canada and requires the careful attention of many sectors of Canadian society. If it goes ahead, the impacts will reach far beyond the mine site and the immediately affected community. Not only is this the first diamond mine in Canada below 60º latitude; it is the first mine in muskeg, and it will require a port for diesel tankers on James Bay. It is the first diamond mine in a northern coastal area.

It is also significant, because its proponent, De Beers, is one of the most powerful companies in the world. Since the company is not publicly listed, it operates under a veil of secrecy not available to other Canadian companies. However, the proponent is not the parent company, but "De Beers Canada Exploration Inc.". There is no indication that liability for the commitments made by the subsidiary will be honoured by the parent in the event of default by the subsidiary.

It is significant because it is taking place on the traditional territories of one of the smallest First Nations in Canada, that has already become dependent upon start-up salaries and grants from De Beers for its income.

This is an environmental justice issue.

To date, there have been a number of problems with public participation in the Environmental Assessment process, which will mean on-going vigilance by all concerned. Read the comments from NAN, Northwatch, Mushkegowuk, and MiningWatch Canada on the scoping of the environmental assessment.