Diavik meetings still on the move
Latest round in Ottawa

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 23/00) - Environmental agreement talks continued Tuesday between Diavik and the federal government, a spokesperson for the company said.

Tom Hoefer, Diavik's public affairs manager, said Monday that the talks had been moved to Ottawa.

The Ottawa meeting follows meetings in Calgary and Vancouver.

Diavik's project engineer, Nishi-Khon/SNC Lavalin was located in Calgary until it only just days ago moved to Vancouver.

"It's back to senior Diavik staff and DIAND," Hoefer said.

Diavik and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development have been trying to hammer out an environmental agreement since last month.

All that remains, said Hoefer, is for the two sides to agree to the terms of a $185 million security deposit.

DIAND has said there will be no land-use permit issued until the environmental agreement is complete.

As of Monday, the Diavik project was still in jeopardy of being delayed a year.

If Diavik is to begin construction of its $1.3 billion diamond mine at Lac de Gras this year, it needs the land-use permit so it can prepare the proposed mine site while the ice-road window remains open.

Site preparation, which includes quarrying rock and preparing pads for fuel tanks and equipment, could take as long as two weeks.

The ice road, which opened to full capacity Feb. 10, could be closed in four weeks.

"We've (already) lost three weeks of the ice road," Hoefer adds.

Asked if there is still time to salvage the original construction program, Hoefer said: "We may have to reduce the scope of the year 2000 construction program."

That means if the agreement is completed and the land-use permit follows and the ice road is still open, Diavik's engineers will have a look at what can be done in the time that is left.

"We've lost three weeks of shipping and preparation time to get the site ready to receive the materials," Hoefer said.

The Diavik project is 60 per cent owned by Rio Tinto and 40 per cent owned by Aber Resources.