GNWT and De Beers Canada sign Socio-Economic Agreement for Gahcho Kué

June 28, 2013
News Releases

YELLOWKNIFE (June 28, 2013) - The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and De Beers Canada (DBC) have signed a Socio-Economic Agreement (SEA) for the proposed Gahcho Kué Project in the North Slave Region. The SEA relates to DBC’s plans to establish a mine and related facilities at Kennady Lake for the commercial production of rough diamonds.

The SEA formalizes commitments made by DBC with respect to employment, training, business opportunities and other related benefits for NWT residents, and it includes measures to monitor socio-economic impacts stemming from the Project.

“In signing this SEA, both parties are affirming their commitment to advancing this Project in a way that not only creates jobs for our residents, but that supports the health and wellness of the region,” said Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, David Ramsay. “This is a significant step forward in opening this mine, a project that will translate into economic opportunities for people throughout the North and South Slave Regions - and across the territory.”

Highlights of the SEA include:


  • Incentives to assist employees living in the NWT and promote greater benefits to northern residents. These incentives include priority hiring, relocation benefits and priority for northern business in procurement.
  • A commitment to establish a trades training, apprenticeship and professional training sponsorship program with at least 30 positions allocated for NWT residents.
  • Financial management and literacy training, as well as collaboration in cultural awareness programs.
  • Expanded points of pick-up that include all five regional centers in addition to Tlicho and Akaitcho communities. This will allow for more northern residents to access employment opportunities at the Gahcho Kué mine site.
  • Adaptive management that will include public reporting by the GNWT and DBC, with GNWT reporting on socio-economic impacts and DBC reporting on commitments.
  • A commitment from GNWT and DeBeers to meet jointly once per year with representatives of Aboriginal groups and communities near the mine site and respond to formal concerns or recommendations within 90 days.

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“This is an important milestone for De Beers and for our Joint Venture Partner, Mountain Province Diamonds,” said Tony Guthrie, President and CEO of
De Beers Canada.  “The GNWT and De Beers already have experience working together to optimize the participation in and benefits from De Beers’ Snap Lake Mine for NWT Residents and this agreement positions us to continue to grow our corporate contribution to the economic sustainability of the NWT and of the diamond industry in the NWT.”

“This SEA provides our residents with opportunities to undergo training and further education to enhance their existing skills or to create a new career,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Jackson Lafferty.  “This is important as our economy continues to grow, and the requirements to match skilled workers to jobs increase.  We have numerous initiatives in place to ensure our residents benefit from these opportunities.”

“The SEA signed today is a significant step, not only in ensuring benefits to northerners, but in mitigating potential negative impacts. In addition to the commitments made to lessen the foreseeable impacts,” said Health and Social Services Minister Tom Beaulieu, “a welcome addition to this SEA is the commitment to adaptively manage this agreement and to diminish any future impacts that may arise. Ongoing collaboration between GNWT, communities, and industry will ensure we maximize benefits while minimizing negative impacts.

The GNWT views this SEA as an important step in moving this Project forward and ensuring the greatest benefit to the northern residents and businesses. The Gahcho Kué mine will create work and business opportunities for NWT residents that will stimulate the mining industry and diversify our economy, a priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly.

For more information, please contact:

Alayna Ward
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Industry, Tourism and Investment
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-920-8696

Attachment:

GAHCHO Kué SOCIO-ECONOMIC AGREEMENT BACKGROUNDER


Gahcho Kué Mine Socio-Economic Agreement (SEA)

The Gahcho Kué Mine SEA was negotiated to capture the commitments De Beers Canada (DBC) made during the environmental assessment of its proposed mine, to clarify their interpretation, and to provide certainty with regard to those commitments.

The SEA addresses:


  • employment and training opportunities;
  • business procurement opportunities;
  • social and cultural well-being; and
  • reporting, monitoring and adaptive management (follow-up) tools.

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 What is Adaptive Management?

Adaptive Management is a practical approach to improving resource management policies and practices. Adaptive Management is used to improve SEA monitoring in the following ways:


  • Provides opportunities for the GNWT and DBC to meet annually with representatives of Aboriginal organizations and communities in affected communities;
  • Authorities and communities can submit a formal concern or recommendation, in which the GNWT/DBC has 90 days to respond;
  • Adaptive management also considers proposals for specific projects or initiatives relating to the Gahcho Kué socio-economic impacts;
  • Responses to concerns or recommendations will be published in annual reports.

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GNWT SOCIO-ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS

 Q:           What is a Socio-Economic Agreement?
A:           When an environmental assessment takes place for a major resource development, the GNWT asks for follow-up programs to be put in place in the form of Socio-Economic Agreements (SEA). The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) is responsible for negotiating these agreements on behalf of the GNWT.

The Department also oversees the implementation of these Agreements and coordinates GNWT efforts under each Agreement, while monitoring how well each company carries out its respective responsibilities.

During the environmental assessment, the developer describes how its project may affect the social and cultural environment.  It is common for a company to describe the job and business opportunities its project will bring, and also to describe the steps it will take to help make this happen.  These are the company’s commitments.

A Socio-Economic Agreement captures those commitments.  It also outlines the ways in which the developer and government will work together to maximize project opportunities for NWT residents.

Q:           What is the difference between an IBA and a SEA? 
A:           An IBA is a private contract between a developer and an Aboriginal organization. IBAs are not tied directly to the environmental assessment process.  The topics covered by an IBA reflect beneficiaries’ interests and priorities. IBAs take precedence over SEAs.

A SEA is a broader, public agreement that reflects the interests of the local community as well as NWT residents as a whole. SEAs are complementary to IBAs.

Q:           What SEAs are currently in place?
A:           The GNWT has entered into SEAs with BHP Billiton, Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.; De Beers Canada Inc.; the producers and operators of the Mackenzie Gas Project; and the Canadian Zinc Corporation (CZN).

Q:           Does the GNWT benefit from the SEAs?
A:           No, SEAs do not directly benefit the GNWT. The GNWT works on behalf of the people of the NWT to oversee the implementation of these Agreements and coordinates government efforts under each Agreement. The GNWT also monitors how well each company carries out its respective responsibilities.