By KELLY LOUISEIZE
Attawapiskat area First Nations communities are driving home a message of inclusion as tendering contracts are being scheduled for next winter’s construction phase of the Victor Mine project.
“If you’re not an Attawapiskat business or you’re not a trainer (for Aboriginals), then you are behind the eight ball,” Gerry Kerr, partner with Chignecto Consulting Group and consultant for Attawapiskat First Nations, says.
More than 140 services and supply companies were on hand at the Holiday Inn in Greater Sudbury Feb. 16 to hear what the First Nations communities
want to see in tendering submissions.
Approximately a year and a half ago, Attawapiskat First Nation negotiated with De Beers to be included in business opportunities. Through a ratified impact beneficiary agreement, Attawapiskat First Nation will have a meaningful share of the benefits and profits through partnerships with service and supply businesses.
They are seeking companies who are earnest in training and educating Aboriginal people to help them become an active part in developing the mine’s infrastructure and the area’s economy.
“If it is just a flow-through approach with no real intention of including (Aboriginals) in the business, (don’t bother),” he says.
There is no shortcut to qualify and each organization will be graded on a point system with up to 20 per cent given for Aboriginal inclusion.
Attawapiskat businesses, including joint venture partnerships, will be awarded 10 points and companies willing to make a commitment to employ First Nations can gain up to 10 points.
Attawapiskat First Nation will entertain service, construction, outsourcing and procurement contracts. However, an open book process will allow Attawapiskat First Nation to choose one particular company for a specific job. That company’s name will be given to De Beers and, through a query process, they can determine if the company has the capacity to complete the job. If the company is chosen, “the contract is sealed and it does not go out,” Kerr says.
Some of the larger contract positions have already been let. North American Construction Group has been awarded the civil work, while AnTech
Ltd. is heading some of the mechanical and engineering initiatives. But Kerr says they are being encouraged to subcontract out portions of their work so there is a balance between large public business and private business involvement.
In order for the winter construction phase to begin for the $860 million Victor Mine Project, contract approvals will need to be tendered by June and July. Joint venture companies having proven their dedication to quality and service will likely be called back for further work. Currently, there is a multitude of mining companies in the Attawapiskat region searching for new kimberlites.
The Victor project itself is expected to last approximately 12 years, but more discoveries are expected, Kerr says.