Closer to a deal
GNWT, Diavik agree on socio-economic agreement

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 11/99) - It's a done deal. Well almost.

Last Friday, both the Government of the Northwest Territories and Diavik Diamond Mines announced that they had entered into a socio-economic agreement.

But the full agreement has yet to be released.

The plan was to make the document available last Wednesday, but the last of the i's had yet to be dotted so the agreement in its entirety remained unavailable.

The GNWT did say that the agreement calls for the establishment of an advisory board composed of representatives of affected communities as well as the GNWT and Diavik Diamond Mines.

Aboriginal and Northern employment, training and apprentice programs, Northern business participation, and transportation assistance are among the areas covered by the agreement.

"I applaud Diavik Diamond Mines' commitment to reasonable levels of training for Northerners, to giving priority to NWT businesses and to establishing value-added industries in the NWT," Stephen Kakfwi, the minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, said in a press release.

"The successful conclusion of these negotiations reaffirms the GNWT's position that sustainable development of natural resources is essential to the long-term economic, cultural and social well-being of all Northerners," he said.

Kakfwi also said the Diavik agreement is better than the one the GNWT signed with BHP Diamonds.

Kakfwi adds further review of the Diavik project is unnecessary.

The GNWT will be telling the federal government that "there is no substantive benefits to delaying the project and asking for a full (panel) review," he said.

The socio-economic agreement comes soon after a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on supply of rough diamonds was announced Sept. 3.

In June, the GNWT halted socio-economic agreement talks with Diavik Diamond Mines, citing supply of rough diamonds as the only big issue. Socio-economic agreement talks resumed after the MOU on rough diamonds was completed.

News/North requested a copy of the MOU from both the GNWT and Diavik Diamond Mines. Both suggested News/North should obtain the MOU from the other party.

As for a decision on the project, Environment Minister David Anderson will have the final piece of the Diavik project puzzle later this month, when the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board finalizes its views by Oct. 15.

With the board's report, Minister Anderson will have all the documents required to decide if further review is necessary.