It was only a week ago Tuesday that the territory’s Gahcho Kué diamond mine officially opened its doors, but already a key contractor is walking out of them. 

ESS Compass Group provides culinary and cleaning services at the mine 280 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife. The company employs some 60 staff at the remote mine, though that might not be for much longer.

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De Beers Canada confirmed in an email Tuesday that the company will be exiting its contract early because of ‘commercial reasons’.

“ESS-Compass Group has informed us that for commercial reasons, they will be exiting their contract with De Beers Canada for services currently being provided at the Gahcho Kué mine site,” the email stated.

Recently, the union representing those workers – Teamsters Local 213 – threatened strike action over low wages. When polled at the time, 99 per cent of staffers said they were in favour of going on strike.

The contract has an exit clause that De Beers says is now in effect. The clause allows for ESS Compass Group to leave Gahcho Kué within 120 days, meaning the group will maintain services at the mine until January at the latest.

“We will immediately commence a search for a new service provider within this 120-day period,” said De Beers. “Our priority will be to find a local service provider for this opportunity.”

De Beers says Gahcho Kué will continue to ramp up to full production as scheduled.