Canadian health and safety association Workplace Safety North (WSN) has announced the 2018 recipients of its President’s Award, given to organisations with a strong commitment to improving safety, with the De Beers Group winning the mining category.

The London-based group won the award for its work at the Victor mine in the James Bay Lowlands of Ontario, the first diamond mine in the province and De Beers’ second project in the country. The mine, which has exceeded production estimated by over one million carats to produce 7 million carats since its opening in 2008, is a fly-in/fly-out operation that is expected to close next year.

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“The President’s Award is the highest provincial health and safety honour, and recognises exceptional commitment to the prevention of illness and injury, and to continuous improvement in occupational health and safety,” said WSN president and CEO Paul Andre.

“When organisations make the health and safety of its workers top priority, they show employees, customers, and the community in general, that their values are in the right place.”

The project also won a range of safety awards prior to the 2018 President’s Award, including the WSN’s Workplace Excellence Award earlier this year, and the prestigious National John T Ryan Safety Award in 2015 and 2016.

The mine was one of only nine Canadian operations to record zero lost time incidents (LTIs) in 2015, and saw 1.2 million hours worked without an LTI, the longest in Canada. The project also reported the lowest injury rate across all Canadian mines.

De Beers’ commitment to the local community has ensured the mine’s impacts on local life have been minimised. The Victor mine is located around 90km from land belonging to the Attawapiskat First Nation, and De Beers has tried to hire as many of its 500-strong workforce from the First Nation group.

The company also spent C$167 on schemes with First Nation communities and businesses when the mine was first built.

The mine, which was voted Mine of the Year by Mining Magazine in 2009, is expected to close next February.

Ahead of the closure, De Beers has turned its attention to environmental rehabilitation programmes with Attawapiskat students, and retraining its miners for employment beyond mining.

Mining Technology’s Mining Safety content is supported by USA mining safety specialists Carroll Technologies Group.