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Snowfield sues over Drybones Bay blasting job
Dyno Nobel seeking adjournment of trial relating to 2006 contract, says limitations apply

Thandie Vela
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Snowfield Development Corp. is seeking millions of dollars from drilling and blasting company Dyno Nobel Canada Inc., over a blasting job at the junior exploration company's Drybones Bay area diamond project.

NNSL photo/graphic

A satellite image of the Drybones Bay area. Snowfield Development Corp is suing Dyno Nobel Canada over a blasting job at the Mud Lake kimberlite pit at Snowfield's Ticho diamond project, close to 50 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife. - image courtesy of Google

The Supreme Court judge-alone trial over the handling of the Ticho diamond project bulk-sample rock blasting, is set for Oct. 17 in Vancouver, but Dyno Nobel is seeking an adjournment of the trial, citing the B.C. Limitations Act.

The contract Snowfield is seeking damages for was signed with NWT Rock Services, which was amalgamated with Dyno Nobel in 2007. In 2006, at the urging of De Beers Canada, Snowfield undertook a 500-tonne kimberlite bulk-sample at the project, located on the Slave Craton, about 50 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife, the company said. The blasting company was hired in October of that year to provide drilling and blasting services. The goal was to create a pit for access to underlying kimberlite for the bulk-sample.

According to a statement of claim filed last summer, Dyno Nobel failed to follow an open pit design approved by the NWT Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission, making it unsafe for workers to excavate the pit to obtain the bulk sample, and failed to complete the drilling and blasting within the agreed upon time period.

"The defendant breached its duty of care in the performance of its obligations under the contract," the claim states, seeking general damages for breach of contract and/or negligence, and other damages, including legal costs.

The monetary value the company is seeking is unspecified in the document. Meldon Ellis, Snowfield's lawyer, only described the damages sought as being in the range of "several million dollars."

Dyno Nobel denied the allegations in its written response. Reached at the company's Salt Lake City headquarters, spokesperson Jodi Morgan said the company would speak publicly about the lawsuit.

"Due to the ongoing litigation, I won't be able to give comment at this point," Morgan said.

Ellis said the biggest legal obstacle for Snowfield to overcome is the limitations ruling. Snowfield alleges the claims, which were filed three years after the incident, are covered by the six-year limit which applies generally to breach of contract claims. However, Dyno Nobel alleges Snowfield's claims are subject to the two-year limitation period, which applies to injury to property claims.

In a written statement to Yellowknifer, Ellis stated he "is confident that if Snowfield succeeds in the limitations ruling, it will be successful recovering its damages at trial."

A limitations ruling is expected from the Court on or before Oct. 3.

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