Ekati mine sold, set to restart operations in January

Aerial shot of Ekati Mine. (Supplied by Dominion Diamond Mining Company).
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Dominion has confirmed the sale of Ekati with two creditors, after financial troubles and a number of delays threatened the future of the mine.

If the deal goes through, Dominion has said they will restart operations at Ekati no later than January 29, according to a press release from the company.

The sale of Ekati to its parent company Washington had failed back in October, with three insurance companies blocking the deal.

If the deal goes through, which is subject to court approval, the two creditors will purchase all of Dominion’s assets, except from Dominon’s ownership in Diavik mine — DDMI received permission to sell-off the diamonds from Diavik mine in November — and the Working Capital Facility.

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The two creditors, DDJ Capital Management, LLC and Brigade Capital Management, LP are also providing $70 million in funding to keep the “Working Capital Facility” open, which will allow Dominion to restart and maintain operations at Ekati.

The agreement is subject to court approval because Dominion has been in creditor protection — allowing the company to pause paying their debts — since April. 

That is set to end on December 15, although Dominion is seeking permission from its credoors to restructure its debts — allowing it to agree to a smaller amount of its debts to be paid back.

When the Ekati sale failed back in October, the Union of Northern Workers issued a statement saying the companies involved weren’t acting in the “best interest of northerners.”

“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?” Todd Parsons, UNW President, said in a statement. “Where is the due diligence to ensure that hardworking northerners and their families aren’t left out in the cold?”

The three insurance companies who blocked the deal back in October, 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. 

The deal has to be confirmed by or before February 1, 2021.

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