BHP inks new contracts with First Nations communities at potash project

CBCIE Time:Mar 14, 2023 10:33 Source:northernminer

BHP announced Friday that as construction progresses at its Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, it has awarded three new contracts in partnership with local First Nation communities.

Covering camp management, site services and raw ore/handling foundation, the contracts include representation from the six First Nations surrounding the Jansen site, with whom BHP has opportunity agreements in place. 

The agreements, established in 2012, are a way that industry can forge new relationships with Indigenous Peoples to create local employment, business opportunities and build skills and capabilities of local residents.

“Across our operations, it is our ambition to create long-term relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on trust and mutual benefit – and these contract awards demonstrate this ambition in action,” chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said in a statement.

“By integrating local suppliers and Indigenous businesses into our supply chain we are working hand-in-hand with First Nation partners to build long-term positive outcomes for communities and for BHP.”

The three and a half year contracts are valued at over $260 million (US$187.8 million), and will support more than 400 local jobs with over 50% planned to be Indigenous.

Since sanctioning Jansen Stage 1 in August 2021, a total of $470 million in contracts have been awarded to Indigenous businesses in the region, the miner said.

The camp management contract has been awarded to Wicehtowak Frontec Services, a joint-venture between ATCO Frontec Ltd. and George Gordon Developments Ltd. The joint venture was originally created in 2011 as a 50-50 partnership to support the construction of the Jansen Discovery Lodge, and today has evolved to a majority Indigenous-owned company.

The site services and raw ore/handling foundation contracts have been awarded to 2Nations Bird – a new partnership between Bird Construction Inc., Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation’s Willow Cree Developments General Partner Inc., and Fishing Lake First Nation’s Development Corporation, FLFN Ventures. 2Nations Bird will work with KDM Constructors, who represent Kawakatoose, Day Star and Muskowekwan Nations, as well as George Gordon Developments Ltd, the economic development arm of the George Gordon First Nation.

“Indigenous and industry partnerships, such as these, create economic and employment opportunities for our Nation and its members,” said Chief Ananas of Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation. “It also allows us to develop capacity, learn from one another, and grow in tandem. More importantly, these types of relationships are critical to advance economic reconciliation which allows us to develop long-term, meaningful, and sustainable outcomes.”

Operations at Jansen are anticipated to start in late-2026, and BHP is working with other Indigenous groups to identify jobs and skillsets and partnered with local organizations in Saskatchewan to provide pre-apprenticeship programs to help build awareness of opportunities in the trades and prepare individuals for the skills necessary to enter the mining industry.

“Through these programs we hope to attract more people who may not have considered a career in mining, particularly women and Indigenous people in the region,” the miner said.

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