Archaeological Investigations Conducted at The Diavik Diamond Mine

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2010-004)

Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. (Points West) conducted archaeological investigations for the Diavik Diamond Mine (Diavik) on September 15, 2010. The investigations were conducted under an amendment to Northwest Territories Archaeological Permit 2010-004 held by Jean Bussey. Originally, permit 2010-004 was issued for an archaeological inspection tour of the existing Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road (TCWR). In mid-June, the Joint Venture for the TCWR determined that an annual inspection was not necessary in 2010, that inspections would be every second year in future.

In August, Diavik contacted Bussey to ask if she could request a permit amendment and conduct a brief assessment at their mine site on Lac de Gras. Two areas that might contain unrecorded archaeological sites were found by personnel involved in selecting locations for proposed wind turbines. These two possible archaeological sites and the four possible wind turbine locations required an archaeological assessment. A request submitted to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre for an amendment to the winter road permit to allow examination of six localities at Diavik was approved. The winter road connects with Diavik and provided a logical alternative to applying for a new permit at such a late date and for a limited investigation.

The Diavik mine is located on an island in Lac de Gras and is approximately 300 km northeast of Yellowknife. Field work was scheduled for mid-September to coincide with other environmental work. Fred Sangris of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation was involved in the environmental work and stayed on to assist Bussey with her archaeological investigations. Dayna Meredith, a Diavik environment technician, provided additional assistance. All six locations were visited on the ground. No new archaeological sites were discovered, but one previously recorded site, LcNt-6, was identified.

No new archaeological sites were discovered in the vicinity of the four proposed wind turbine locations, but possible archaeological site no. 2 (located at wind turbine no. 3) reported by Diavik personnel is actually previously recorded LcNt-6. Although this site was not mitigated, it is part of the sample of quarry sites that was considered in the original mitigation plan, thus, no further work is required at this site if wind turbine no. 3 is installed. Possible archaeological site 1, also reported by Diavik personnel, is a quartz vein that is naturally eroding; no evidence of human modification was noted. This location is no longer under consideration as a wind turbine site, but if development were to occur in future, no additional archaeological investigation would be required.

(Edited by Shelley Crouch, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)