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GNWT to step up inspections at Snap Lake mine

The Government of the Northwest Territories will conduct more inspections at Snap Lake as remaining workers suspend operations at the mine.

De Beers is placing the NWT mine into “care and maintenance” as it deals with adverse market conditions.

More than 400 people are losing their jobs. It could be years before diamond mining resumes at the site, which may also be closed permanently in the coming months.

The company maintains that all environmental regulations will be followed as the mine ceases operating. In a letter made public on Tuesday, the territorial government said inspections at the site would increase to make sure of that.

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“As a result of the transition of the Snap Lake mine from production to care and maintenance, the inspector has decided to increase the frequency of inspections to once every two weeks in order … to ensure environmental commitments are being maintained,” reads a letter from Department of Lands resource management officer Jamie Steele.

Inspectors have also requested weekly updates from De Beers on progress with the shutdown.

There were no concerns raised in either of the site’s last two inspections, in December and January. However, an inspection last week at De Beers’ other NWT mine – the under-construction Gahcho Kue – found a bag of ammonium nitrate, associated with explosives used in mining, had been mishandled. (Read that inspection report here.)

In December, deputy minister of lands Mark Warren said De Beers ran “a very clean, efficient operation from an environmental perspective” at Snap Lake.

“There is not a direct impact associated with temporary shutdown – all their licences and permits are still in place and they’re obligated to abide by those. We’re obligated to inspect the mine and we continue to do that,” he said.


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