NNSL Photo/Graphic

NNSL photo/graphic

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Diavik hiring gets Snap Lake interest
Several unemployed miners turn out at job fair in Yellowknife

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Thursday, February 18, 2016

There is a silver lining on the dark clouds that have surrounded the NWT's diamond industry and overall economy since it was announced in December of last year Snap Lake Diamond Mine was closing, throwing some 434 people out of work.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tim Cobley, left, Diavik human resource manager, talks employment opportunities with Erika Ing at a career fair at Sir John Franklin High School last Friday. The company is hiring 90 people for work on construction related to the A-21 kimberlite pipe. Most of the positions are for skilled heavy equipment operators. - Walter Strong/NNSL photo

Some of those now unemployed miners showed up at a career fair last Friday at Sir John Franklin High School, looking to secure one of the roughly 90 jobs up for grabs immediately at the Diavik Diamond Mine, about 300-kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.

"We did get interest. I can't give you a lot of data on it but it is positive," said Doug Ashbury, Yellowknife spokesperson for for Rio Tinto, which operates Diavik.

"Individuals (from Snap Lake) were approaching us about opportunities."Ashbury said he did not have an exact numbers on how many former Snap Lake workers visited them at the job fair but said the response was positive and encouraging. The new workers are needed for the construction of what's known as the A-21 dyke, Ashbury said. He added that the dyke is a rock-filled structure built in the lake and used to safely remove the water from that portion of the lake and open-pit mine the A-21 kimberlite pipe.

"(There is) a US$350 million budget for that project and associated with that is the need to hire ... The hiring we are doing is for the construction phase so it is a seasonal annual hiring and that will take us to approximately four years," Ashbury said. "At the end of it we're going to need an open-pit work force." He said there will be opportunities for people hired to work on the construction of the dyke to transition to full-time work at Diavik, once the new mine opens which is expected in 2018.

Construction on the A-21 dyke began last year. Ashbury said that construction work cannot proceed right now because the lake is frozen. He said until break up, workers will be crushing rock and stockpiling it.

"Last year we hired several individuals and we'll be hiring more this year. We are expanding. There have been several employment opportunities listed in various locations," Ashbury said. "The A-21 workforce will peak at approximately 200 people."

Ashbury did not say whether the company is giving hiring priority to laid-off Snap Lake workers but added their skills should be transferable. Diavik is looking for heavy equipment operators including bulldozers, excavators and haul trucks. The company is also looking to hire safety advisers, supervisors and team leaders.

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