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Attawapiskat ratifies the Victor Project Impact Benefit Agreement

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    ... From: CNW Portfolio System To: Portfolio E-Mail Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2005 12:52 PM Subject: Attawapiskat ratifies the Victor Project Impact Benefit
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2005
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: CNW Portfolio System
      To: Portfolio E-Mail
      Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2005 12:52 PM
      Subject: Attawapiskat ratifies the Victor Project Impact Benefit Agreement



      CNW Group Portfolio E-Mail





      DE BEERS CANADA CORPORATION


      Transmitted by CNW Group on : June 30, 2005 15:15
      Attawapiskat ratifies the Victor Project Impact Benefit Agreement

      ATTAWAPISKAT, ON, June 30 /CNW/ - Following an extensive community
      ratification process, the Attawapiskat First Nation has voted overwhelmingly
      in favor of approving the provisions of the Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA)
      that was reached between the First Nation and De Beers Canada with respect to
      the proposed Victor diamond mine. The mine will be located approximately
      90 kilometers west of the Attawapiskat community, in the First Nation's
      traditional lands in the James Bay lowlands of Northern Ontario.
      In a ratification vote held on June 21, 2005 involving both on-reserve
      and off-reserve members of the First Nation, 85.5% voted in support of the
      agreement. Shirley Gagnon, a community member who was the Head Negotiator for
      Attawapiskat was pleased with the turnout. "We tried very hard to ensure that
      our members had sufficient information to make an informed choice. While it
      proved a real challenge to track down the off-reserve members, both the on and
      off-reserve turnout exceeded our expectations."
      The company and the First Nation began negotiations for the IBA early in
      2003 and reached an agreement in principle late in December 2004. De Beers
      Canada agreed that the project would only proceed with community support. The
      ratified Impact Benefit Agreement constitutes community approval for the
      project to proceed.
      "We have worked very closely with Attawapiskat for a number of years now
      and formed strong bonds with the community," said Jeremy Wyeth, VP of the
      Victor Project. "It means a great deal both to me personally, and to the
      company, that through this agreement the Attawapiskat community will have a
      variety of opportunities for business, employment and training which could all
      help the community members to improve their quality of life."
      The Impact Benefit Agreement sets out the benefits the community will
      receive from the project and details how the impacts will be mitigated. The
      IBA is a comprehensive document which sets out the commitments of both De
      Beers and Attawapiskat. It includes commitments from the company regarding
      training and education, employment and business opportunities, environmental
      management, social and cultural issues and financial compensation.
      Commenting on the agreement, the Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation,
      Mike Carpenter, said: "Our people have had a great deal to consider in the
      negotiation and ratification process for this agreement. We wanted to ensure
      that we had a sound and fair agreement which would provide long-term benefits
      for our First Nation. While there are still concerns over the impact of the
      project, the people have decided that the significant long term benefits for
      our community and our children outweigh the risks."
      "True partnerships underpin our approach to business and this is evident
      in the relationship we have developed with Attawapiskat since we first began
      work in the area in the 1980s. We have completed a range of agreements with
      different Aboriginal communities widely across Canada but this is our first
      IBA. The nature of this agreement is such that it eclipses those previously
      completed in terms of the major long-term benefits which Attawapiskat will
      receive throughout the life cycle of the mine," said Richard Molyneux,
      President and CEO of De Beers Canada Inc.
      In May the company received conditional approval for the $982 million
      dollars to build the mine. De Beers has already spent $140 million, much of
      this directly in Northern Ontario, to develop the project and plans to begin
      construction of the mine early in 2006. The mine will employ about 600 people
      during construction and 400 permanent positions will be created during
      operations.
      Funding for the project is conditional upon completion of the
      environmental assessment (EA) which has been ongoing for three years. The
      Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency recently released the Comprehensive
      Study Report (CSR) presenting the outcomes of the environmental assessment
      process, and the public has until July 11, 2005 to submit final comments on
      the CSR. Federal Government approval of the EA will provide the community the
      assurance that the regulators are satisfied with the steps outlined in this
      assessment to address the environmental issues. Following EA approval, the IBA
      will be signed by the community and De Beers Canada. Both parties are hopeful
      that the EA will be approved in time for construction to begin in
      January 2006.
      Chief Mike Carpenter summarized the community's decision in this way, "We
      see this IBA as strengthening the existing relationship with De Beers Canada
      to create a longer-term partnership which will be beneficial to both our
      community and the company. We are hopeful that the project and the benefits it
      will bring will help us address the many challenges we have in our community."




      -30-

      /For further information: Linda Dorrington, Manager - Public and
      Corporate Affairs, De Beers Canada Inc., Tel: (416) 645-1710, Cell:
      (416) 818-2254; Chief Mike Carpenter, Attawapiskat First Nation, Tel:
      (705) 997-2166/

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