Diamonds and jobs

NNSL (Jan 14/98) - Northern diamonds could create hundreds of spin-off jobs, says the NWT Chamber of Commerce president.

David Connelly was among Northerners who went to London and Antwerp last week to identify business opportunities.

"There are significant, profitable, value-added businesses that can be developed and retained in the North," he said earlier this week.

"A centre of excellence for the secondary diamond industry can be achieved with the existing Northern human resources and through world-class joint-venture partners," he said.

Connelly said that, beyond sorting and evaluation, the NWT could become a manufacturing centre for sawing, cutting and polishing diamonds.

Northern boutique jewelry, using diamonds, other gems, gold, bone, ivory and silver, is another opportunity. The North's retail and tourism sectors would benefit from developing the diamond industry, he said.

Impediments to setting up a value-added diamond industry in the North include competition from low-cost countries and training challenges, Connelly said.

Essential is a supply of rough diamonds.

"One approach is for government to purchase an on-going percentage of rough diamonds."

Connelly also said that in almost all diamond-producing countries, sorting and evaluation occurs in the country of origin.