Community and Environmental Projects at the Diavik Diamond Mine, Canada | Print |

The Diavik Diamond Mine is located on a 20 square kilometer island in Lac de Gras, approximately 300 kilometers by air northeast of Yellowknife, capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, and has required extensive sustainability projects. These cover environmental issues, developing unique technologies for the extraction of diamonds which contribute 25 percent of the North West Territories’ Gross Domestic Product, education and training, employment and the creation of new businesses.

Agreements were negotiated with each of five neighbouring Aboriginal groups, prior to mine construction, outlining how Diavik would work with them to maximise community benefits through such things as scholarship funding, employment and the building of local business capacity.

Diavik built, and continues to support, a Traditional Knowledge Camp, which is located adjacent to the mine site and runs every summer. Diavik works with the five impacted Aboriginal groups, providing training on aspects of Western science with a view to helping these groups better understand changes in the regional environment. As part of these camps, elders, adults and youth representing local communities participate in workshops that blend traditional knowledge with science. One of these workshops, the fish palatability study–assesses fish health during mining operations in response to concerns raised by Aboriginal people during the initial environmental assessment, that mining might have adverse affects on fish texture and taste.

Diavik monitors the potential effects of the mine on wildlife and wildlife habitat. In addition, Diavik participates with Canadian universities and researchers in scientific studies focused on environment and geology at the mine site. Diavik is undertaking research to determine the effect of arctic climate on diamond waste rock piles to facilitate long-term protection of the environment, and this information is expected to be applicable throughout the world.

Diavik is a significant contributor to Canada’s northern economy. More than 40 percent of the several hundred people who built the Diavik mine were northern residents, and C$900 million in contracts went to northern firms. Furthermore, two-thirds of the northern spending (C$600 million) was with northern Aboriginal joint ventures and northern firms, a first for Canada. Diavik has exceeded all the agreed employment and spending goals.

The Diavik mine has created jobs, and training. Diavik partnered with northern colleges, territorial, federal and Aboriginal governments and contractors to provide hands-on and classroom-based training to build confidence in students with the intention that they would successfully sit a trades entrance examination. The mine has offered opportunities for training in a wide range of areas, including heavy equipment operation, welding, construction, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, roof repairs, renovations, cooking, surveying to soil gradation, mine operations and maintenance and security.

Contracting out work is another way Diavik plans to leave behind a positive legacy. By outsourcing to local companies, Diavik has helped to build local capacity that will live past the life of the mine.