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The Lands and Minerals Sector of Natural Resources Canada promotes the participation of Aboriginal communities in minerals and metals activities across Canada by sharing information on Aboriginal-industry leading practices.
Vale Inco is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vale, formerly known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, the world's second-largest mining company by market capitalization. The main features of the Voisey's Bay, Labrador, mine site are the open pit, concentrator, waste rock storage areas, sedimentation ponds, and tailings disposal areas. In addition, the company's port facility at Edward's Cove in Anaktalak Bay includes a dock, concentrate storage building, and equipment for loading the concentrate onto arriving ships. Construction of the mine, concentrator, and port began in the third quarter of 2002 and was completed in late 2005.
The company signed Impact and Benefits Agreements (IBAs) with the Nunatsiavut Government and Innu Nation. While the details of these agreements are confidential, they provide specific business, employment, and training opportunities for members of the Innu Nation and Nunatsiavut Government related to the mine and concentrator project.
Employment and Training
Approximately 500 people are employed supporting operations at the mine and concentrator site, of which 54% are Aboriginal. At its construction peak, over 40% of the mine's Labrador work force comprised Innu and Inuit. More than 350 Aboriginal people participated in training related to the project. Pre-employment training was offered in communities throughout Labrador through the Joint Voisey's Bay Employment and Training Authority. The IBAs required the establishment of an Innu Employment Coordinator and an Inuit Employment Coordinator to facilitate the hiring of Innu and Inuit and to provide access to information about the project to local residents. An Inuit Employee Advisory Committee was also developed to provide advice to site management.
In January 2007, the Skills Development Centre opened at the mine and concentrator site in Labrador. Employees are offered an opportunity to advance their education and to improve their prospects for advancement while staying employed with the company. The Skills Development Centre is the only private work site in Newfoundland and Labrador to receive Adult Basic Education (ABE) designation.
Vale Inco uses a number of contractors to provide support services at the mine and concentrator, and these contractors are Aboriginal businesses. A total of $515 million in contracts was awarded to Aboriginal companies during the construction phase of the mine and concentrator project. Vale Inco has encouraged the establishment of capacity-building Aboriginal joint ventures to meet the supply and service needs for its Labrador operations. The majority of contracts for the operations phase are with Aboriginal businesses.
Social, Cultural and Community Support
Vale Inco regularly supports cultural and community events through sponsorships and donations. The company has established scholarships that are available to the Innu and Inuit; it is also providing ongoing support funding to schools to encourage attendance and student development. Vale Inco contributes to a wide variety of civic, community, cultural, health, and education initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Vale Inco has also contributed to the development of a new community centre in Nain, Labrador, and to the Innu Healing Foundation's Building Hope Campaign to help build, equip and endow two community recreational facilities in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.
Vale Inco produces an annual corporate Social Responsibility Report that outlines employment, training, procurement, and community investment initiatives. Socio-economic monitoring strategies are being developed jointly with the Innu Nation and the Nunatsiavut Government.
A socio-economic study is under way to determine the impact the project has had on the people of Labrador's North Coast, especially the Innu and Inuit. It is a follow-up to the environmental and socio-economic assessments that were carried out between 1997 and 1999.
Vale Inco has implemented an Environmental Protection Plan that consolidates all relevant provincial, federal, and Inco corporate environmental guidelines. This ensures the approach to identifying non-compliance issues and offering mitigation is consistent. Environmental management and monitoring involve a high level of Aboriginal participation and extend to virtually all aspects of the environmental management process. The company incorporates the traditional knowledge of Aboriginal peoples in the ongoing management and monitoring of daily environmental performance. This allows for the protection of areas of cultural signifi cance. In addition, Vale Inco funds on-site Aboriginal Environmental Monitors who report to the Nunatsiavut Government and Innu Nation.
Vale Inco is committed to maximizing opportunities for Aboriginal peoples in Labrador. According to Tom Paddon, General Manager of Labrador Operations, "Our employment and procurement success to date is evidence of this commitment. We achieved this level of success by working closely with the Innu Nation, the LIA, and all of our stakeholders to reach our goals."
For more information, please visit the Vale Inco website or contact the company by telephone at 709-758-8888 or by facsimile at 709-758-8833.
Photos courtesy of Vale Inco (used with permission).