The Government of the Northwest Territories has signed off on the Ekati diamond mine’s Jay pipe expansion, a new open pit that could see mine’s life extended by more than a decade.
Territorial lands minister Robert C. McLeod has informed the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board that the government accepts the board’s recommendations.
Earlier this year, the board recommended moving forward with the expansion so long as a number of measures were put in place to protect the environment.
The board’s environmental assessment claims to have taken “ into consideration the concerns of residents and the need to protect the land, wildlife and water for future generations while ensuring economic prosperity.”
The GNWT’s approval means the mine’s owner – Dominion Diamond Corporation – can now apply for permits to begin construction.
“This is the first joint territorial – federal environmental assessment decision since devolution,” said McLeod in a statement.
“After a robust review of the Review Board’s Report of Environmental Assessment and Reasons for Decision, we achieved consensus between all five responsible ministers.
“This demonstrates our continued commitment to improve coordination and effectiveness in resource management systems while recognizing traditional knowledge, land claims agreements, and devolution.”
Some of the board’s required 23 measures include improving the design and use of roads to minimize impacts to caribou, minimizing dust from road use and funding an elders group to advise on the construction of the Jay road.
According to Dominion, the Jay pipe could see Ekati’s mine life extended by more than a decade – with consequent benefits for local employment and the territory’s economy.
The corporation hopes to start mining the pit in 2021.