Criticism doesn't deter government
Diavik environmental bases covered, says government

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 15/99) - A Northern environmental review board's criticism of the Diavik environmental review has not reduced the territorial government's support for the project.

"The comments they made are addressed through the socio-economic agreement we negotiated," said Bob McLeod.

The acting deputy minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development was responding to criticism of the review levelled last week by the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.

McLeod said the socio-economic agreement between the territorial government and Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. provides for follow-up and monitoring programs that address concerns about the depth of cumulative effects monitoring in the review.

Though it was signed Oct. 2, the government has yet to release the agreement to the public. An RWED official said this week lawyers are still working out minor details.

The Mackenzie Valley board's conclusion that inadequate research was done on the eventual abandonment and restoration of the mine site will be addressed as part of Diavik's water license application, said McLeod.

The government also believes the review included adequate study of alternative, less environmentally harmful methods of mining the diamonds, said McLeod.

A Diavik press release issued Tuesday downplayed the Mackenzie Valley board's call for the government to provide more information on the impacts of the proposed mine.

The release referred to a recent endorsement of the project by RWED Minister Stephen Kakfwi as exemplifying "a growing consensus of support for the project in the local communities."

Three aboriginal organizations -- the Treaty 11 Dogribs, North Slave Metis Alliance and Lutsel K'e Dene council -- have called for a new review of the project.

Diavik added it still requires regulatory approvals to meet its January 2000 construction deadline.

"Any further delay would force DDMI to cancel the Year 2000 construction contracts and re-evaluate the overall project," stated Diavik.

The Mackenzie Valley board's comments were the last required before Minister of the Environment David Anderson makes a decision on the proposed mine.