The expansion of N.W.T.'s Ekati diamond mine gained a key approval today as the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board says the mine's Jay pipe project should move forward.

The board says the project will cause significant impacts to the environment but that those impacts can be avoided and reduced by Dominion Diamond Corporation.

The board's required 22 measures include:

  • improving the design and use of the roads to minimize impacts to caribou
  • minimizing dust from road use
  • funding an elders group to advise on the construction, operation and monitoring of the Jay road
  • offsetting remaining impacts to caribou from the Jay Project by implementing mitigation at other areas of the Ekati mine site
  • ensuring clean surface waters at the Jay and Misery pits so the area can be used for aboriginal traditional uses after the Jay project closes
  • preventing impacts to the Narrows

The board's decision needs to be approved by the N.W.T.'s Lands Minister, Robert C. McLeod.

If he approves the decision, the project will still need permits to start construction.

Dominion Diamond Corporation hopes to start mining the Jay pit in 2021. The company says Jay will help Ekati remain in operation until 2033.