Communities in Northern Canada

Case Studies +

Dominion’s mining activities and people are part of the fabric of the remote northern region in which our operations are located.


We maintain regular dialogue with local communities, recognizing that our presence can bring both opportunities and concerns for residents.

At the Ekati mine, we are guided by the Ekati Mine Engagement Plan, which outlines well-established activities that build on practices developed during the early days of the mine. These include community and Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) meetings, workshops, and site visits, and the involvement of Elders and youth in TK and environmental monitoring projects.

Environmental reports are submitted to the Wek’èezhìi Land and Water Board (WLWB), all of which are posted to the WLWB’s public registry, where any party can provide comments or raise questions. Both the Ekati mine and the Diavik mine publish annual reports related to their socio-economic performance, which are posted on their websites.

A key topic of discussion at the Ekati mine in 2016 was the Jay Project. Throughout the planning and permitting process, we shared our plans with the communities, conducted site visits, collaborated on studies, and addressed questions and concerns. In December 2016, public hearings for the Jay water licence and land use permit were conducted by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB) and the WLWB, covering water quality and management, construction monitoring, and aquatic effects monitoring.

In keeping with measures outlined in the Report on the Environmental Assessment for the Jay Project, we created a TK Elders Group to provide input into mine planning and decision making. The Elders Group met twice in 2016 to establish its terms of reference. It was agreed that the Group would provide advice on the Jay road, esker crossing, and waste rock storage area ramps to reduce impacts on caribou; the cultural camp at the mine; and other matters such as water, land, fish, air, closure, and post-closure.

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The Ekati mine has commitments under a Socio-Economic Agreement (SEA) with the Government of the Northwest Territories that has been in place since 1996, prior to our acquisition of the mine. These commitments relate to employment, community development, and business opportunities for northerners and northern Aboriginal residents.

Our calendar year 2016 highlights are presented below. The Ekati Diamond Mine 2016 Socio-Economic Agreement Report provides performance details.


  • Dominion employed 595 northern residents*, of whom 57% were northern Aboriginal, exceeding our SEA target of 50%. Of our entire employee base, 36% were northern Aboriginal.

Business opportunities:

  • We strive to maintain positive working relationships with northern and northern Aboriginal contractors to build capacity for northern businesses and to have a positive impact on the northern economy.
  • Aboriginal-owned businesses and joint ventures have secured numerous contracts at the Ekati mine, including contracts for mining services, explosives and blasting supply, catering, transportation services, janitorial services, as well as freight, cargo, and mail transportation services.
  • In 2016, Dominion spent over CDN $335 million in the North, up from CDN $258 million in 2015. More than CDN $144 million, or 43% of northern spend, went to Aboriginal businesses, a significant increase over the CDN $97 million spent on Aboriginal businesses in 2015. The increase in northern business expenditure can be attributed to additional earth moving equipment, building construction, and cargo/freight services. The additional Aboriginal business expenditure is a result of increased building construction and cargo/freight services.
  • The majority of the Ekati mine’s 2016 northern expenditure went into four categories:
    • Earth moving equipment
    • Freight, cargo, and mail transport
    • Mine drilling and blasting services
    • Building construction and maintenance

* Figure represents person years. One person year equals 2,080 hours per year, except for construction, which equals 2,736 hours per year.

Ekati Mine 2016 Expenditure by Priority Group pie chart
  • Northern Aboriginal – CDN $144 million (27%)
  • Northern non-Aboriginal – CDN $191 million (35%)
  • Other – CDN $204 million (38%)

Community Development

Through the Ekati Plus Community Development Program, we provide financial and in-kind support to projects and organizations that help build resilient, sustainable communities. Our efforts include funding Traditional Knowledge (TK) activities in order to promote and support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis heritage; and investing in the future of the North by supporting youth education and literacy initiatives. See pages 5 and 6 of the Ekati Diamond Mine 2016 Socio-Economic Agreement Report for a list of the groups supported.

In 2016, Dominion contributed almost CDN $5.3 million to Northern communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut through IBA payments, scholarships, and donations.

Diavik Diamond Mine also contributes approximately CDN $5 million annually to local communities through Participation Agreements with Aboriginal communities, community projects, donations, and scholarship funding, of which Dominion contributes 40%, or CDN $2 million. See page 12 of the Diavik Diamond Mine 2016 Sustainable Development Report for a list of community programs supported by the Diavik mine during the year.