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Lessons learned
Aboriginal Community / Mining Company Partnership

In 1974, the proposed Nanisivik lead-zinc mine on northern Baffin Island was a done deal. The Government of Canada and Mineral Resources International Limited (MRI) had signed the Strathcona Agreement, governing development and operation of the mine.

The main goal of the Strathcona Agreement was to provide financial assistance to MRI for infrastructure; including roads, an airstrip, a wharf and the town site. But another component dealt with employment of local residents (a section that made the Strathcona Agreement, in effect, the first Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) in Canada). With the government providing funding, MRI agreed to provide employment and training for the local Inuit population. The final agreement stated that within three years of start-up, members of the local Aboriginal population would make up 60 per cent of the workforce.

The question that must be answered is this: Why did Nanisivik not attain 60 per cent northern Aboriginal employment?

MRI did make some changes. For example, they changed the re-hiring policy to reflect the reality of the Inuit lifestyle — allowing any employee who had left the job (for example to go on a hunt) to be re-hired. But training was also an issue and MRI was unwilling to train as many local people as needed because of the cost.

The good news is we can learn from the past, The Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) commissioned a research study called  Lessons Learned: A Report on HR Components of Aboriginal Community and Mining Company Partnership Agreements. The goal of the research was to  increase understanding among both the mining industry and Aboriginal groups,  of how to achieve “win-win” employment outcomes when negotiating and implementing the HR components of Aboriginal community/industry partnership agreements.

Want to read more?  You can read the study here.


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