Things are looking up
Lovell says we stand a good chance at getting a piece of the action

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 18/98) - Will Yellowknife get a diamond evaluation and sorting facility? After meeting with southern diamond players in Toronto last week, Yellowknife Mayor Dave Lovell is extremely optimistic.

"Six months ago, not a snowball's chance in hell. Right now, I think better than a 50 per cent chance that we're going to get sorting and evaluation at some level here and probably a 40 per cent chance that we're going to get some manufacture of diamonds," said Lovell on Monday.

There is one small problem though. Yellowknife must secure a regular supply of rough diamonds from producing mining companies.

If they are successful, a number of southern companies have stated interest in setting up shop in the North.

"I think there's a list of seven companies. I talked to three of them myself and they're quite serious," said Lovell.

No one has yet figured a way to secure these diamonds from the producers.

"I think what we need is maybe a first right of refusal on a portion of them or something. But we have to have this guaranteed supply because these companies are not going to set up if they think they're going to be pinched out of the De Beers supply line," said Lovell.

Lovell said the North will benefit from the industry. How much it benefits remains to be seen.

"For me it would be absolutely ludicrous, completely unacceptable, not to have sorting evaluation in Yellowknife. I think there is pretty darn good potential for a manufacturing market here doing diamond. We have to have the means of having manufacturing here. That's all there is too it. Anything less would just be unconscionable."