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Tahera still fighting for Jericho

Communication lines are open, says review board

Stephan Burnett
Northern News Services

Coppermine (Aug 11/03) - Tahera Corporation is repeating the mantra, "We think we can," but soon it could be announcing, "We knew we could."

Tahera's Jericho Diamond Project is located 350 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay, with the property being staked at the height of the Lac de Gras rush.

While Jericho is roughly one-twentieth the size of the Ekati Diamond Mine, it's still a significant play for a junior exploration company like Tahera.

Operational cash flow is expected to come in at $153 million over the eight-year lifespan of the proposed mine, after the estimated $60 million in capital costs.

"We're a very small organization and the classic case of a junior trying to move to the next level of becoming a producer. If you've been around this industry for any length of time you realize it takes a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of people to become a producer," said Greg Missal, vice-president of Nunavut affairs for Tahera.

Tahera is in the midst of drafting a supplemental environmental impact statement after an earlier hearing date was postponed when a number of eleventh-hour information requests temporarily derailed the process.

"The reason for that is that there was some outstanding baseline data and field work yet to be done," said Stephanie Briscoe, executive director for the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Briscoe explained Tahera needs to ascertain what the area was like prior to the commencement of work. As well, Tahera needs to identify wildlife in the area, provide information on air quality and climate baseline information and provide more data on the caribou and muskox migration within the region.

"This gives us an idea as to mitigation, when it's 10 years down the road and we ask them to return it to baseline conditions," said Briscoe.

"If the water quality was perfect when they came in, we want the water as close to perfect as possible once the project comes to an end,' said Briscoe.

While meeting high environmental standards is simply an aspect of doing business within the North, Briscoe is optimistic for Tahera.

Tahera held a meeting in mid-June with some of the stakeholders and have yet to complete some additional geo-technical studies as well as traditional knowledge studies, Briscoe said.

At the same time she adds, "We've got a great working relationship with Tahera. The lines of communications are open."

If the supplemental impact statement is accepted, Tahera will proceed to the community hearings phase.