Under the scope
Diavik hearings wrap up next Friday

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 26/99) - Public, government and company representatives this week dove into a pool of technical information associated with the proposed Diavik diamond mine.

The Diavik hearings, part of the environmental assessment, are examining various concerns associated with the proposed Diavik diamond mine.

The subjects discussed at the hearings include water and fish, wildlife, social, as well as cultural and economic issues.

The hearings, led by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, are to conclude next Friday at the Explorer Hotel.

Yellowknifers Kevin O'Reilly and Chris O'Brien expressed concern Wednesday that some issues were being shifted to the licensing stage.

"I see another issue foisted off to water licensing," O'Reilly, speaking as a Yellowknife resident, said.

He made the comment after discussions about how Lac de Gras fish would handle blasting.

Gord Macdonald, Calgary-based Diavik environmental advisor, said the percentage of Lac de Gras' fish habitat affected by blasting is measured in the single digits.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is recommending Diavik do egg survivability studies to test assumptions made in the company's shock wave model.

The recommendation brought forth Wednesday is for Diavik to verify uncertainties in blasting impacts by monitoring and experimentation during early stages of the mine and to modify the blasting schedule accordingly.

Earlier in the week, Chamber of Mines executive director Mike Vaydik made a presentation on the number of jobs the mine would create. Diavik projects it will employ as many as 350 people.

Based on population growth rates, the Western NWT will need 6,000 new jobs by the year 2006 if it wants an unemployment rate of nine per cent, Vaydik said. He quoted the figures from the 80-page report Harnessing Our Economic Potential (the Bailey report) released last month.

"People will be asking us where the jobs are," he said.

He also said that when people on social assistance were asked why they need help, the Bailey report showed they responded "no jobs."