Attawapiskat blockade may force De Beers to close mine
Diamond miner says it is still waiting for action on court-ordered injunction
Despite what was called a "successful" meeting with protestors and a court injunction issued Friday, a road block on the winter road to the De Beers diamond mine near Attawapiskat continues.
De Beers said if it continues, it may consider temporarily shutting down the operation.
Mine access has been blocked intermittently by a handful of protesters — members of the Attawapiskat band — at several points this month. Some of those people say they have concerns about the community not benefitting enough from the mine.
"These have not been ... community initiatives," De Beers spokesperson Tom Ormsby said. "They've been individually driven by individual agendas or individual concerns or claims."
Because the winter road has a limited lifespan and it's not possible to ship some supplies by air, De Beers might have to simply lock the front gate.
"If we do not get our supplies in, all things are on the table, including a possible closure," Ormsby added.
Ormsby said the company is still waiting on the court injunction to be acted upon to disband protesters and re-open the road to the Victor Mine.
Meanwhile, the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation said she hopes a community meeting Tuesday afternoon will help end the blockade.
Chief Theresa Spence said she and council have been in talks with De Beers, as well as with the people involved in the blockade.
"We're looking at everything," she said. "Chief and council, at the end of the day, they're the ones who are going to be sitting down with De Beers. In the meantime, we're listening to the blockaders concerns and putting everything on paper."
Spence said more meetings are scheduled.
Attawapiskat signed an Impact Benefit Agreement with De Beers in 2005, but some band members want to revisit that agreement.
The Victor mine will soon mark five years of production — roughly the halfway point in the projected lifespan of the mine.