De Beers is seeking First Nation support
An exploration team from De Beers Canada was expected to be in northern Ontario’s remote Weenusk First Nation on Tuesday, to seek community support to conduct diamond exploration work.
Weenusk First Nation, or Peawanuck, is a small community of nearly 400 people, 1,400 km north of Toronto, on the shores of the Winisk River.
The Cree community is divided on whether or not they support mining in their ecologically sensitive and undisturbed traditional lands. Many live off the land, fishing and hunting caribou. They are concerned about the consequences of mining development.
De Beers is one of the world’s largest diamond mine companies, operating with its partners in 20 countries across five continents. Each year, the company pulls 600,000 carats of diamonds out of the Victor Diamond Mine, 90 kilometres west of Attawapiskat First Nation. But the Victor Mine nears the end of its life span in four years.
De Beers is now looking for fresh sources for diamonds. Northern Ontario is believed to be rife with many precious resources that have been difficult to mine for a number of reasons — including ecological sensitivity of the land, remoteness and the need for First Nations agreement. De Beers currently has a $1-billion infrastructure investment at the Victor Mine and it hopes to expand on that by opening Tango, an extension mine seven kilometres away. Tango’s environmental assessment is still ongoing.
Weenusk band councilor Georgina Pepan said she is not going to the meeting on Tuesday.
“I have already said what I had to say and I’m not interested in mining,” said Pepan, she added the chief will also not be in attendance as he is out of town.
i have already said what i had to say and i’m not interested in mining. Georgina Pepan