Still talking
Work continues toward Diavik environmental agreement

Terry Kruger
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 07/00) - Talks continued into the weekend as negotiators worked to finalize an environmental agreement with Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.

All parties in the talks, federal, territorial and First Nations governments and Diavik, returned to the bargaining table Friday with the hope an agreement could be reached.

That didn't happen and negotiators continued to meet and work through a draft agreement into the weekend. There was no word on progress of talks at deadline.

Indian and Northern Affairs deputy minister Jim Moore told News/North last week that Diavik was presented a draft environmental agreement at the beginning of last week.

He said the company had some concerns with the draft and would discuss those issues when all parties returned to talks last Friday.

Diavik's concerns were believed to include a condition sought by territorial and federal governments that the company post a security deposit.

Moore would neither confirm nor deny whether operational funding for the monitoring board to be established by the agreement is an issue. The parties involved in the talks have agreed not to discuss details of the negotiations publicly.

While Moore wouldn't predict when an agreement would be reached, he said Diavik's concerns appear to be the final hurdle to an agreement.

"If they can be ironed out, then my guess would be it would increase the level of comfort of the parties and form the building blocks of an agreement," said Moore.

If an agreement is reached, Diavik could receive a land-use permit to allow work at its Lac de Gras site, 250 kilometres north of Yellowknife.