Hemlo Mines creates opportunities for First Nations students

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

Ontario Mining Association member Barrick Hemlo Mines is providing opportunities for residents of two nearby First Nations, Pic River and Pic Mobert, in Northwestern Ontario.  In 2009, the original 1992 agreement between Hemlo and these First Nations was broadened.  It creates a framework to train First Nations people in skills for present and future mining employment, to support business development and to include involvement in environmental stewardship programs.

“The agreement helps build capacity in First Nation communities to ensure that they benefit from mining,” said Roger Souckey, Superintendent of Employee Relations at Hemlo Mines.  “About  50 First Nations people work at Hemlo Mines, or about 10% of the workforce.  The mine is a benefit to the area.”

The Hemlo Operations of Barrick include the Williams and David Bell gold mines.  The mines purchased goods and services worth $35 million in Ontario in 2010 and $147 million in Canada.  In 2010, Hemlo Mines paid taxes and royalties of $8 million and contributed a further $800,000 in a variety of donations to local communities.

However, statistics no matter how impressive they are do not show the personal side of positive numbers.  Myles Michano from Pic River First Nation and Hannah Desmoulin from Pic Mobert First Nation are both working at Hemlo in environmental monitoring jobs and the company is funding their education to earn environmental technician diplomas.

Mr. Michano, 29, is able to split his time between working at Hemlo and taking care of his ailing grandmother at Pic River.  He has helped develop environmental monitoring policies for the reserve and he works in the field taking water samples, carrying out inspections and monitoring pipelines at the mine site.  He is pursuing his diploma at Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie.

Ms. Desmoulin, 22, is a mother of two who was driving a shuttle bus between her reserve and the mine.  Now, she is doing environmental monitoring duties at the mine and working on her diploma from Seneca College in Toronto by correspondence.  “Where else can I get an opportunity like this,” she said.

In Ottawa last year, Barrick’s Hemlo Operations was presented with the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining Leadership Award.  Hemlo received an “A” ranking in all independently monitored TSM categories, which include tailings management, energy use, external outreach and crisis management planning.  While Hemlo’s scores reflect leadership in this range of categories, external outreach is a critical component of the operation’s – and Barrick’s – ongoing commitment to responsible mining.

Barrick’s Hemlo Operations are located about 350 kilometres east of Thunder Bay near Marathon.  In 2010, production from the Williams and David Bell mines was 242,000 ounces of gold.  Proven and probable reserves contain an estimated 1.4 million ounces of gold.

Mining companies are responsible, solution-providing partners in society.  They do more than find, extract and process minerals essential to our modern lifestyle.  They volunteer and add great value to the quality of life in their communities and beyond.

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