Last update:

Diavik Diamond mine by Rio Tinto and kimberlite waste issue, Northwest Territories, Canada

The mine is placed on First Nations' territories, but now the proposal is to dump mine waste kimberlite and other tailings into their waters and land. The Environmental Board approved the project in January 2020.


The Diavik Diamond Mine lays on the Lac de Gras lake, in Canadian Northern Territories. About 200 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, besides the diamonds, the bottom of Lac de Gras represents one of the most important and dedicated ecosystems in the world as well as indigenous ancient territories [2] [5]. 

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Diavik Diamond mine by Rio Tinto and kimberlite waste issue, Northwest Territories, Canada
State or province:Northwest Territories
Location of conflict:Lac de Gras
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tailings from mines
Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Diamonds
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Diavik Diamond Mine began production in 2003 and has been a fully underground mining operation since 2012. For the fourth mine only, opened in 2018, a four-year construction period and an investment of approximately $350 million was conducted and shared by Rio Tinto and joint venture partner Dominion Diamond Corporation [3].

See more
Project area:2,470
Level of Investment:350,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/1999
Company names or state enterprises:Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from Australia
Dominion Diamond Corp from Canada
Relevant government actors:The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Tlicho First Nations
- Akaitcho Dene First Nations
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Tlicho and Akaitcho Dene
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil erosion, Waste overflow
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Displacement, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of alternatives:No alternative from opposing First Nations group was considered in this case. The project was approved and the only alternative considered was the technical "solution" of the company that would rise the dam walls and keep the risk of waste spilling in the waters.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Unfortunately since 1999 the First Nations are opposing the mines (four of them by the year 2018). Now the company also got the "green light" to leave the waste on the indigenous land, rivers and lakes.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[5] EA1819-01 Report of Environmental Assessment and Reasons for Decision for Diavik Diamond Mines Inc’s proposal to deposit processed kimberlite into pit(s) and underground
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] CBC 1999: Rift develops over N.W.T.'s Diavik diamond mine
[click to view]

[3] Rio Tinto Official website: The Diavik Diamond MIne
[click to view]

[2] CBC 2019: Diavik Diamond Mine wants to dump mine waste into its pits
[click to view]

[4] CBC 2019: Hearings into Diavik's dumping plans expected at end of July

Other documents

The Diavik Stars of the Arctic trio (diamonds exploited) Source: Rio Tinto collection on Flickr
[click to view]

Diavik mine evolution stages Source:
[click to view]

Akaitcho Dene territories Source: Akaitcho Dene Official website
[click to view]

The Diavik Diamond Mine in winter. Source: Mining and Energy
[click to view]

The Tłı̨chǫ territories Source: Wikipedia The Tłı̨chǫ
[click to view]

The Diavik Diamond Mine in summer Source: Mining Networks North
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update12/01/2020
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.