“Our decision to increase production is consistent with our business strategy to align production with global demand,” DeBeers Canada President and CEO Jim Gowans said in a release. “Although our industry might not see the same sales levels in the next few years that we enjoyed in 2007 and early 2008, we anticipate a steady growth in demand over the next three or four years, and the long term looks bright.”
The announcement comes one year after DeBeers laid off 200 workers at the mine due to the economic slowdown.
The mine, which officially opened last July, will reach full production by 2012. Over 400 workers are currently employed at the mine and a total of 634 workers will be employed once the mine reaches full production. Forty-four per cent of DeBeers’ Snap Lake workforce are northerners.
The company also announced a new program to nationally certify underground workers at the mine. DeBeers has partnered with the Mine Training Society, Aurora College and the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to improve the underground mine training program available in the NWT. The employees will now be certified to the Ontario Common Core standard.
“We used the curtailed production period this year to build our investments and develop a strategy for the NWT,” Brad Corrigan, the mine’s general manager, said during the company’s Business Opportunities Charity Breakfast last week. “Our 2010 ramp up will commence immediately in all areas of the operation. We have budgeted to ramp production to four times the levels we are currently operating by 2012. This will include additional investments such as the new accommodation complex and a long-term recruitment and training strategy.”
Starting next year, students in the NWT underground mine training program will take part in a 12-week work experience at the mine. DeBeers’ trainers will teach, test and certify the workers to the new standard. The first intake for the new program will occur in January.
“Offering training and certification that includes nationally recognized standards will give NWT residents who come through this training program increased recognition of their skills from mines across the country,” Hilary Jones of the Mine Training Society said in a release. “This partnership is something that is going to put the NWT on the map as a great place to live and work as a miner and as a great place for underground mine training.”