First Nation Demands Clarification Over De Beers' Snap Lake Flood Plan

Mining and Exploration
24/04/2016 12:04

A De Beers proposal to let its closed Snap Lake diamond mine flood as part of its care and maintenance status has run into opposition from a local community in the Northwest Territories in Canada. The miner suspended operations at the underground mine last December with the forecast loss of more than 400 jobs saying poor market conditions made the Snap Lake operation unviable and it could remain closed for three years or more. The firm wants to save money by turning off expensive pumps keeping the mine as dry as possible, claiming that doing so reduces the site's environmental impact, keeps alive hopes of reopening the mine, cuts the effluent sent downstream, limits winter road traffic and lowers emissions, according to a CBC News report.

Flooding the mine would take between 213 and 398 days to complete. If the mine reopens in future, De Beers says pumping it dry and resuming operations would take around 420 days. The plan needs the approval of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. De Beers plans a remote monitoring network to monitor Snap Lake if no workers are on-site during care and maintenance.

However, Alex Power, the regulatory specialist for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said there were fears that De Beers' proposal has no defined end point. "It's unclear that there's any limit as to how long the site will remain in care and maintenance. As long as the site is in care and maintenance, it is not being remediated. Everybody knows the mine is a bit of a dud. It's hard to imagine a buyer that would be interested. Maybe they'll find someone in the market for a mine with a leaky roof and all the easy diamonds removed — but take that for what it is. The Yellowknives Dene would like to see a hard number on how long you can just essentially let a site sit fallow."