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De Beers may consider closing N.W.T.'s Snap Lake diamond mine

De Beers officials say a downturn in diamond prices and a costly water problem that required a licence amendment have them taking a hard look at the mine's future.

Company says it's weighing all options, including shutting down operations

Surveyors with De Beers in the N.W.T. De Beers Canada says it's unsure of the future of the Snap Lake mine, given a downturn in diamond prices and a costly water problem that required a licence amendment. (De Beers)

De Beers Canada says it's unsure of the future of its Snap Lake diamond mine, given a downturn in diamond prices and a costly water problem that required a licence amendment.

The Snap Lake mine,  located 220 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, was De Beers' first diamond mine outside of Africa. It opened in 2008 and was projected to have a mine-life of 20 years.

Officials with De Beers told CBC on Wednesday that they're looking at many options including shutting down the mine.

"For a mining company when you're looking at all the multiple options to respond to whatever the situation is, it's everything from, do you adjust production, do you look for cost savings, to do you put anything into a care and maintenance situation," says Tom Ormsby, director of external and corporate affairs with De Beers Canada. 

This summer, De Beers scaled back its underground drilling program at Snap Lake. In August, the company announced some of its Yellowknife and Snap Lake staff positions would move to Calgary.

Ormsby wouldn't say how many jobs could be affected if the company does plan to cut back on production or close the mine. About 300 of the employees at the mine are from the N.W.T. 

There is no word on when a decision will be made.

De Beers had signed impact benefit agreements with four indigenous groups: the Yellowknives Dene, the Tlicho Government, the North Slave Métis Alliance and the Lutsel K'e and Kache Dene First Nation. 

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