Diavik, KIA sign job agreement

Mine pledges to offer training, work to Kitikmeot Inuit


IQALUIT — The Diavik diamond mine and the Kitikmeot Inuit Association have struck a deal to help provide jobs for KIA beneficiaries.

The two groups signed a “participation agreement” in Kugluktuk on Sept. 23.

The agreement states that Diavik will offer training, employment and business opportunities to the Inuit of western Nunavut. In return, it requires KIA to provide the mine with up-to-date listings of available workers and their skills, as well as a registry of Inuit-owned businesses.

“Rather than this being a one-sided approach, what we said is, for us to be successful, were going to have to work together,” said Diavik spokesman Tom Hoefer. “So in these agreements, both sides make commitments to do certain things.”

Diavik is slated to open in 2003. Though the mine site is located in the Northwest Territories, the land surrounding it was traditionally used by Kitikmeot Inuit. Moreover, the mine is in the watershed of the Coppermine River, which flows into the Arctic Ocean near Kugluktuk.

Inuit, therefore, “have a very special interest in the water quality of the river,” Hoefer said.

For those reasons, Hoefer said, Inuit have as much stake in the mine as do residents of the NWT. Diavik, therefore, had an incentive to strike an agreement with them.

Keith Peterson, who was KIA’s chief negotiator on the agreement, said the document does not set out a certain number or percentage of Inuit that Diavik must hire.

“If people are willing and qualified, they’ll certainly receive high priority,” he said.

Diavik has already begun training programs with Kitikmeot residents. Last winter in Kugluktuk, the mining company held courses for tradespeople and cooks. This winter the company will be working with the community to train residents while laying a new concrete floor in the local arena.

When the mine opens, Diavik expects to employ about 400 workers. Hoefer said the company aims to have about 160 of those — 40 per cent — be aboriginal.

There are a total of 1,100 construction workers currently helping to build the mine. Peterson said that probably 20 to 30 of those are Kitikmeot residents.

Peterson said the participation agreement took about a year-and-a-half to negotiate.

“Everybody is pretty happy,” he said. “There’s going to be lots of benefits going to the Inuit here, and any extra funds we can get into the communities is great.”

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