Diamond miner DeBeers expands migratory bird study

The diamond mining company DeBeers is expanding a survey of migratory birds in the James Bay Lowlands.

Mine workers first spotted birds nesting in sand and tailings piles at the mine, company says

DeBeers is studying birds that have build nests in the diamond mine on the James Bay Coast. (DeBeers/Supplied)

The diamond mining company DeBeers is expanding a survey of migratory birds in the James Bay Lowlands.

DeBeers operates its Victor diamond mine near the community of Attawapiskat. It has also been working on expanding to mine in a nearby area it calls the Tango extension.

Mine workers first spotted birds, including common nighthawk, rusty blackbird and olive-sided flycatcher, nesting in sand and tailings piles, company spokesperson Tom Ormsby said.

"They actually burrow into the tailings again around the nesting period of time, so we've actually had to change some of our activities in the tailings area until they've moved on as well. We know it's a very vibrant population."

Swallows are one of the bird species nesting in DeBeers mine on the James Bay Coast. (DeBeers/Supplied)

DeBeers has been studying the birds since 2012, but new guidelines from Environment Canada prompted the collection of more information, he said.

Mine operations adjusted

The follow up study includes placing 57 recorders in various areas to collect bird songs. The recordings will be analyzed by an engineering firm to find out which birds are nesting where, Ormsby said.

"We've actually stood down our mining operations inside the pit for example because there were thousands [of birds] that had nested during the spring season when they were preparing to hatch this year's young."

"We've actually had to change our mine plan on occasion for several weeks until the birds had all hatched and moved away."

Ormsby said some of the species, while numerous in the north, may be considered threatened overall.

The mine and its proposed extension don't appear to be affecting their habitat, he said.


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