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Dominion Diamond owes N.W.T. businesses $13.2M — and there's no guarantee they'll get paid

In court documents Dominion listed line-by-line the $1.2 billion it owes creditors and banks around the world. That includes the $211 million it owes the Cayman Islands branch of Credit Suisse, the $8 it owes Water Blast Manufacturing in Edmonton and $13.2 million it owes businesses in the N.W.T.  

Court documents lay out Dominion Diamond's creditors and how much it owes around the world

An aerial view of the Ekati mine, 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. The mine has been in care and maintenance for much of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dominion Diamond Corporation)

Dominion Diamond ULC owes $13.23 million to 50 businesses across the Northwest Territories and as the company moves through court-ordered creditor protection, there's no guarantee they'll be paid. 

As part of its court filings under the Companies Creditors Protection Act (CCAA), Dominion listed line-by-line the $1.2 billion it owes creditors and banks around the world. That includes the $211 million it owes the Cayman Islands branch of Credit Suisse, right down to the eight dollars it owes Water Blast Manufacturing in Edmonton.  

Dominion, one of the largest employers in the Northwest Territories, is being protected from its creditors because it cannot pay its bills, particularly a $20-million US interest payment that was due May 1 and a $16-million Cdn payment to Rio Tinto as part of their partnership in the Diavik diamond mine. 

Dominon shuttered the Ekati diamond mine at the end of March, citing health concerns and blames ongoing commercial and travel shutdowns caused by COVID-19 for leaving it with $180 million US in inventory it can't sell. Throughout the CCAA process, it's pledged to return to production as soon as possible. 

A CBC News analysis of the court filings shows 50 creditors with addresses in the Northwest Territories, owed a collective $13.2 million Cdn. Forty-three of those businesses are in Yellowknife; the remaining seven are spread between Fort Resolution, Fort Smith and Hay River. 

 

Dominion's largest outstanding bill in the territory is $2.9 million, owed to KeTe Whii/Procon, a joint venture between the Yellowknives Dene, the Lutsel'ke Dene, the Tlicho and Procon, a mining contractor based in B.C. That joint venture is providing all the manpower and equipment for the Misery underground development project at Ekati, according to Procon's website.

Other creditors on the list include various businesses owned by Det'on Cho, Finning Canada, Ron's Equipment and Rental, Aurora Geosciences — even $22 it owes the N.W.T. Supreme Court. 

While under the CCAA protection, the company has time to restructure its debts, come up with a plan to remain viable and avoid bankruptcy. A court-appointed monitor oversees the plan, which could ask for some, or all of the debt to be forgiven. Creditors ultimately have to approve the plan for it to go ahead. 

During this process, a hierarchy of claims and the order they will be paid will be established, explained Ian Lee, a business professor at Carleton University and former banker with experience with the CCAA process. 

In an email conversation, he laid out that secured creditors will have the absolute priority, followed by unpaid taxes, then the unsecured creditors — the category that N.W.T. businesses fall into — are paid last. 

In an April 20 letter to suppliers, the company assured them that it is not going out of business and expects a financing deal to come through as a result of the CCAA process.

"Any amounts we owe to suppliers on or before the filing date will be addressed through the CCAA process. We sincerely regret any hardship this may cause," wrote Charlene Lees, Dominion's head of supply chain and site services. 

CBC News phoned and emailed some of the local businesses on the list Friday but no one wanted to speak on the record, saying they were still determining what they'll do next and what this means.  

For the businesses owed money, this likely could not come at a worse time, as the economy sinks into a recession and COVID-19 health restrictions already limit their ability to make money. 

Dominion has filed a request with an Alberta court that would keep the creditor protection in effect until at least June 1. 

  • Scroll through the chart below for a full list of N.W.T. businesses Dominion owes money to.
 

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