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By Gary Park
Petroleum News Calgary correspondent 

NWT aboriginal leaders oppose Canada's third diamond mine

 

Last updated 5/9/2004 at Noon



Northwest Territories Native leaders have thrown a roadblock in the path of plans for Canada's third diamond mine - the Snap Lake project by De Beers Canada that was expected to open in 2008.

Akaitcho and Deh Cho chiefs in the lower Northwest Territories have ruled out another diamond mine until the settlement of their self-government claims is in sight.

Chief Peter Liske said the communities are more focused on treaty deals than mine development.

Although the First Nations have supported the existing Ekati and Diavik mines, those operations are affecting the caribou.

"We have to do something and that's what the elders are saying, two mines are good enough for now," Liske said.

Other delegates to the Circle of Northern Leaders meeting in Hay River on April 7 say the wealth generated by Ekati and Diavik and the proposed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipelines can also bring social problems to the region.

They argued the Northwest Territories and Canadian governments have a responsibility to resolve those concerns before they support mega-projects.

Meanwhile, Aber Diamond, which owns 40 percent of the Diavik mine, has appointed Thomas O'Neill as president as well as chief executive officer of Aber's Harry Winston jewelry retailing division.

O'Neill, who brings extensive experience in British retailing and marketing operations and served a stint as executive vice president with Tiffany & Co., is expected to help establish markets in Eastern Europe, Israel and Asia as Aber builds its retail business.

Since Diavik started production in 2002, Aber's share of diamonds has been sold through Tiffany's in the United States and its Antwerp office in Belgium.

But analysts believe Aber's best long-term future lies with high-end customers who can be accessed through Harry Winston.

 

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