Diavik pulls staff from site
About 80 workers affected by new delays

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 21/00) - Northern residents will feel the pinch as Diavik grapples with more delays and environmental approvals.

"The project is at risk of being delayed at least one year," Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. announced Thursday in a press release.

The delay follows Wednesday's decision by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development not to issue an interim land-use-permit.

Diavik wanted the permit so it could prepare the site for fuel and equipment which would be trucked up the winter road. The road could be ready in just 10 days.

With no interim permit, Diavik has "suspended all work activities at the project site," placing all equipment and facilities on care and maintenance. The company will begin to repatriate all non-essential employees from the site.

Lac de Gras Constructors, contracted by Diavik to prepare the site, said that means about 80 workers, of which about 60 per cent are Northern residents, will be removed from the site. Of the Northerners, 40 per cent are from Northern aboriginal communities.

The company wanted to quarry and put down 40,000 cubic metres of rock and gravel at the site.

Over the past five years, Diavik has put down 70,000 cubic metres of rock and gravel for its existing camp and airstrip.

Preparing to move supplies up the ice road will position the company for its planned construction start in the second quarter of this year, the release said.

"Diavik continues to be of the opinion that the interim activities planned for the current period could be conducted within the existing land-use permit framework."

Lac de Gras Constructors is 75 per cent-owned by Peter Kiewit Sons Co. Ltd., and 25 per cent-owned by Nuna Logistics. Edmonton-based Kiewit is a Canadian company owned by its employees. Nuna is 51 per-cent Inuit owned.

Diavik spokesperson Tom Hoefer could not be reached for comment.

Aber Resources stock traded down 35 cents at $7.40 midday Thursday. Since DIAND refused the interim permit Wednesday, shares have dropped from $9. Aber owns 40 per cent of the Diavik project.