Snap Lake mine workers and families are our priority, N.W.T. government says
'As a government, our priority is the individuals and their families,' says Bob McLeod
The Northwest Territories' premier says the closing of De Beers's Snap Lake mine will have an effect on the economy, but the territory will recover.
"This is not the kind of news that we want to hear," Bob McLeod said, at a press conference held to address the closure of the mine and the layoff of 434 workers.
"The pausing of a major operation like Snap Lake will have an effect on the economy."
De Beers said of the approximately 500 people affected, about 100 are contractors, and 400 are permanent employees. Of those permanent employees, 100 are Northerners.
"As a government, our priority is the individuals and their families," McLeod said.
He said they'll encourage employees who received layoff notices to use government support services, such as career development services and financial programs.
De Beers said employees will be paid in full for 16 weeks, at which point they will be terminated.
The territorial government said it has been in touch with the federal government about employment insurance, which many employees will be eligible to collect after that 16-week period.
'The economy will recover'
McLeod stressed that the closing of Snap Lake will not have any effect on De Beers's Gahcho Kue project. About 100 workers from Snap Lake are slated to be transferred to Gahcho Kue, a diamond mine near the N.W.T.'s Kennady Lake, slated to open in 2016.
"We know there will be some challenges but the economy will recover," he said.
Peter Vician, the deputy minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said the dollar impact is still being tabulated, but there will be implications from payroll taxes, corporate taxes and other returns to government.
"We have been through this before and we have survived it," McLeod said.
The deputy minister of lands, Mark Warren, said De Beers has a detailed interim closure plan, which will go into effect at Snap Lake.
At this point, the environmental impact is not a concern, Warren said, saying the company must continue to abide by all permits and licences.
The territorial government currently holds $80 million in securities for the mine.
The government's next regular inspection of the site is set for Dec. 9.