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'Small town' that ran Snap Lake mine up for sale
De Beers auctioning off around $30 million worth of equipment, tools and vehicles from shuttered site

Jessica Davey-Quantick
Northern News Services
Friday, July 21, 2017

De Beers Canada is throwing one heck of a garage sale and everyone's invited.

NNSL photograph

Terrance Jacobs, CEO of TCL Asset Group Inc., the company handling the Snap Lake Diamond Mine auction, checks the weight of some of the cable. - Jessica Davey-Quantick/NNSL photo

Around $30 million worth of equipment, vehicles, tools and more from De Beers' now defunct Snap Lake Diamond Mine goes on the auction block at a live public auction at the Explorer Hotel Aug. 1 and 2 at 10 a.m.

More than 10,000 individual pieces, grouped into around 2,000 lots, will be stored at several sites across Yellowknife until the big day.

Tom Ormsby, head of external and corporate affairs with De Beers Canada, estimates it took about 500 loads on the ice road to get it all to Yellowknife. He described Snap Lake as "a small town" and said everything that it took to keep that running - from washing machines to mops, hand tools and surface trucks - are on offer.

Snap Lake opened in 2008 but failed to turn a profit. It was plagued with flooding and water issues and in 2015, De Beers abruptly stopped production at the mine. Unable to secure a buyer, last December the company announced they would flood the underground parts of the facility as part of its care and maintenance plan for the site.

"It's not as if this was stuff that was just discarded at the mine," said Ormsby.

"This was stuff that was in full function or stuff that was actually new and on its way into the mine about to be used."

He added many items just weren't useful at either of De Beers' Canadian mines. Snap Lake was an underground mine, while both Gahcho Kue in the NWT and De Beers' Victor Mine in Ontario are open pit, making many of the items non-transferable.

There has been international interest in the auction, especially from other mining and construction companies, said Ormsby.

Bidders will be able to register online as well as attend in person.

Terrance Jacobs, CEO of TCL Asset Group, the company managing the auction, said the price range of items runs from as little as $25 all the way up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I think there's something here for everybody," he said. "It's more like the large, large Costco kind of size assets rather than a small bottle of Windex."

The auction will be theatre-style, with an auctioneer and a screen showing each lot.

The items have also all been photographed and can be viewed online, or in person at bidder inspections on July 31. Prospective bidders can arrive with their hardhats and steel-toe boots in hand to the storage area near the Yellowknife Dump starting at 9 a.m. that day.

Ormsby is confident Jacobs team will have no problem finding new homes for the thousands of items.

"We know there's a lot of interest being generated already," he said.

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