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Ekati mine sale failure leaves workers in limbo

The failed sale of Ekati mine to its parent company has left the miners who work there with an uncertain future.

The sale was set to take place last week between Dominion and its parent company Washington.

However, three insurance companies connected to Ekati have refused to sanction the deal, Dominion said in a news release on Friday. Their agreement was required for the sale to be approved.

The insurance companies, Aviva, Argonaut, and Zurich, have collectively issued around $280 million in surety bonds with the territorial government, to guarantee that Ekati can be safely closed once the mine closes. 

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This leaves workers, most of whom have been temporarily laid off since the mine ceased operations in May due to COVID-19 — and hoped the sale would have seen them return to work — in the lurch.

Kurt Bergstrom is the Union of Northern Workers Regional Vice President for Kimberlite Region, which includes the Local representing Ekati workers. 

He is also a worker at Ekati, who has been temporarily laid off since the mine ceased operations in May. 

“The unfortunate news released late last week by the employer is a major setback in what was looking to be a promising restart to their operations and getting our brothers and sisters back to work,” Bergstrom said in a news release.

The UNW said this is a concerning development for the Ekati Mine and the NT’s economy as a whole.

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“There doesn’t seem to be any accountability on the part of these corporations to act in the best interests of northerners,” says Todd Parsons, UNW President. 

“What are our leaders putting in place to protect our workers and our economy from corporate entities with no personal stake in our future and who answer to no-one but their shareholders? Where is the due diligence to ensure that hardworking northerners and their families aren’t left out in the cold?”

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