Hiring time
Duo offer their views on dynamics of hiring North

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 22/99) - When it comes to mine hiring, word of mouth is among the best methods, says Cumberland Resources president Glen Dixon.

"From an exploration perspective, we've hired through contacts -- on a reference basis. It's simplistic but it works," Dixon said.

Dixon also said Cumberland, a junior exploration company looking to develop the Meadowbank gold resource in the Keewatin, has also found, "Hiring people through the community mobilization program has been excellent." Once a project reaches the production stage though, hiring must take on a much more "regimented and disciplined" approach.

Dixon made the comments Thursday at day one of the Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit. His topic was how to hire people in the North.

Mine developments everywhere, not just in the North, must also look at the surrounding infrastructure and the local communities for support, he adds. Mining companies can also support local communities through contracting practices. Mining companies have the potential to hire local firms for catering, trucking and other associated services.

"Without support of the local community, no project will get very far."

As well, involving the community means early dissemination of information, he said.

By hiring locally, companies are assisting in the distribution of information about the project.

One of the benefits of hiring North, is that people in the North are used to the harsh climate, he said.

If Cumberland is able to bring its gold project to an operating mine, Dixon said when it comes to hiring, the company would likely set up a joint-venture with a Northern company.

Under such a joint- venture, the mining companies would bring the mining expertise while the aboriginal partner would supply the labour pool. It's an arrangement Dixon said has worked well in other mining operations.

Al Giroux, exploration vice-president at Falconbridge's wholly-owned Raglan mine in Nunavik, said the mine's two Inuit employment officers have been indispensable. The company also has liaison officers in nearby communities, like Salluit, to assist with local hiring.

"Each nearby community) has a databank of people interested in working at Raglan," he said. Giroux spoke Thursday afternoon about employment at Raglan and was keynote speaker Thursday evening.

Also to help with local employment, Raglan offers a 2,000-hour training program for underground accreditation. The course allows employees to go underground to operate equipment. It does not make them full-fledged miners.

"The interest is fantastic," he said.

And the only drawback, when it comes to hiring locally, is a desire on the part of the Inuit to be close to home. The is a "reluctance to go south to get major education" because of a strong sense of family, he said.

Raglan, opened in 1997 and is currently mining nickel at full capacity.

SMRQ-Raglan (Societe Miniere Raglan du Quebec) employs 350 people. Twenty per cent of the 350 are aboriginal.

The company is aiming to raise the level of Inuit employment to 30 per cent. As well as the 70 Inuit working directly at Raglan, at least 30 more Inuit work for contracting companies associated with Raglan.

Inuit of the Eastern Arctic may be looking at Raglan as something of a model when it comes to securing benefits. Another example is the Red Dog mine in Alaska. Some mining symposium delegates toured Raglan Saturday.

Giroux also said that as the company has brought together people from many different parts of Canada, there has to be an understanding of the various cultural backgrounds they bring to the site.

"All these people get together and they have to perform. We're trying to create a Raglan culture."