De Beers Canada Inc. and Mountain Province Diamonds, joint venture partners of the Gahcho Kué Project announced on January 27, 2014, that De Beers the operator of the Gahcho Kué Project had signed an Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) with the Tlicho Government, representing the Dene Aboriginal Canadian People, living in the project area in the Northwest Territories (NWT) of Canada, enabling the company to start construction work at the proposed Gahcho Kué open-pit mine, that will exploit the Kennady Lake kimberlite cluster – 5034, Hearne, Tuzo and Telsa – discovered in the 1995-1997 period. The agreement put in place after all environment concerns have been addressed, provides a framework for the signatories, the De Beers Company and the Tlicho Government, to work together during the lifetime of the mine, and enabling participation by the Tlicho people in the opportunities provided by the mine.
The Gahcho Kué Mine is a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%). The Kennady Lake kimberlite cluster 5034, Hearne, Tuzo and Telsa are situated under and adjacent to Kennady Lake, 280 km northeast of Yellowknife, and 80 km southeast of De Beers Snap Lake Mine in the Northwest Territories. The project area of 10,353 acres is held by the Gahcho Kué joint venture partners under a renewable 21-year mining lease. Gahcho Kué will be an open pit operation and production at the mine is due to start in December 2015. The mine with a reserve of 49 million carats of diamonds, will have a life span of 11 years, mining 3 million tonnes of kimberlite annually with an average grade of 1.57 carats per tonne, producing an average of 4.5 million carats of diamonds annually. The Capital cost of the project is estimated between $600 million-$650 million, and the project will provide employment for nearly 700 people during the two- year construction phase and nearly 400 people during its operational phase.
The agreement was signed in Yellowknife on Friday, January 24, 2014. Soon after the signing of the agreement Grand Chief Edward Erasmus of the Tlicho Government said, “The Gahcho Kué Project is located within Mǫwhì Gogha Dè Nı̨ı̨tłèè, an area which the Tlicho have traditionally used and occupied and the protection of the land, water, wildlife and our way of life has guided our negotiating team. This agreement confirms our relationship with De Beers, so that we will work together over the life of the mine to ensure there are many training, employment and business opportunities from the Project for Tlicho citizens. It also includes financial provisions that enable the Tlicho Government to participate in the opportunities that the Project provides.”
Glen Koropchuk, Chief Operating Officer for De Beers, said, “Our relationship with the Tlicho is important to us.This Impact Benefit Agreement builds on the relationship we have already established for the Snap Lake Mine and confirms our commitment to work together for the benefit of the Tlicho people with the Gahcho Kué Project. I would like to congratulate both negotiating teams on this important accomplishment.”