At Diamond Mines in Canada’s Northwest Territories, This Animal Gets V.I.P. Treatment

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This gives us all the touchiest animal feels: Three of the largest diamond mining companies have joined forces in Canada’s Northwest Territories to protect caribou migration that is critical to both their survival, and the survival of the local communities.

De Beers, Rio Tinto and Dominion Diamond Corporation are three of the diamond mining companies working together to safeguard the Bathurst caribou herd migrating through the north’s Lac de Gras region, where the Diavik, Ekati and Gahcho Kue Mines operate.

In an effort to protect the caribou migrating near the Diavik Diamond Mine, all haul roads have caribou advisory signs to ensure they and other wildlife have the right of way. Annually, Diavik monitors caribou within the region with the assistance of indigenous peoples from local communities.

Also known as reindeer, this species both lives and migrates in large herds, have annual fall and winter migration which takes them from their summer calving grounds at the shores of the Arctic Ocean more than 370 miles south to their wintering grounds in the taiga forests. As they migrate, their route often takes them across the ice road where Gahcho Kue Mine, operated by De Beers, is located.

De Beers uses this opportunity to have mine staff collect information on the timing of the caribou migration, their preferred routes, and their behavior, which the company then provides to both the Canadian government and the indigenous communities that are closely connected to these herds — talk about special treatment, which clearly they deserve!

According to a De Beers report, several of the herds in northern Canada are in decline, resulting in a lack of caribou seen in the indigenous communities. As De Beers now focuses on increased safety and data collection, the diamond leader is proposing to construct an access control station where all users of the road can register. They believe it will improve understanding of how the road is used by both industry and community and will contribute much needed information to the government biologists responsible for managing the herds.