PDAC President: Aboriginal Communities Natural Partners with Mineral Industry
New York, N.Y. - The mineral exploration and mining industry offers tremendous opportunities to Aboriginal peoples in Canada and indigenous communities around the world, the president of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) told delegates yesterday at the World Indigenous Business Forum in New York.
“Aboriginal people and the mineral industry are natural partners,” said Dr. Scott Jobin-Bevans, PDAC president. “And mining represents one of the few economic opportunities in many parts of Canada that can support business development, jobs, training, education and sustainable economic and community development.”
Dr. Jobin-Bevans adds that the mineral industry is the largest private-sector employer of Aboriginal peoples in Canada and that Aboriginal employees comprise 7.5 percent of the country’s total mining labour force – a number that continues to grow. Furthermore, the average income of Aboriginal people in mining is double that of the national average for Aboriginal income.
“Aboriginal participation in the industry is increasing and taking on a variety of forms,” said Dr. Jobin-Bevans, citing the example of Tli Cho Logistics, which is owned by the Tlicho Nation located in the Northwest Territories near Yellowknife, close to Canada’s first diamond mines. Tli Cho Logistics was formed through negotiated agreements reached with BHP Billiton’s Ekati diamond mine and Rio Tinto’s Diavik to provide its members with mining-related employment and business opportunities.
The company began providing site services to remote, northern mines and is now expanding its business to include construction projects in other parts of Canada. With almost 400 employees, Tli Cho is generating profits for its people while providing sustainable employment and skills development.
“We have seen an increase in Aboriginal service companies, geologists, drillers, engineers, lawyers, and labourers … even modest growth in communities that have their own mining companies,” says Dr. Jobin-Bevans. “The next evolution for Aboriginal participation in the mineral industry is to increase involvement to the point where communities and its members have the capacity to do initial exploration, secure mineral titles, seek partners and develop publically traded companies.”
During his presentation, Dr. Jobin-Bevans restated the PDAC’s acknowledgement that “the responsible development of Canada’s mineral wealth must provide full and fair opportunity for Aboriginal peoples, along with other Canadians, to enjoy the benefits that all phases of the exploration and mining provide.”
He also repeated the PDAC’s recognition “of constitutionally-protected Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and encouraged members to engage with communities, respect these rights and minimize any impacts that may result from activities on the land.”
Dr. Jobin-Bevans credited the PDAC with having done much to increase Aboriginal participation in the mineral industry. These achievements include signing the historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Assembly of First Nations in March 2008; Mining Matters, a registered charitable organization founded by the PDAC that introduces young students and teachers to geology; and PDAC’s participation in the First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program, which offers a geology, minerals, mining and job training workshop with content specially tailored to Aboriginal young people in remote communities.
Dr. Jobin-Bevans also highlighted the Aboriginal Program which takes place during the PDAC’s annual Convention every March in Toronto. Now in its sixth year, the Aboriginal Program continues to grow as it showcases successful partnerships between Aboriginal communities and exploration and mining companies.
“At the 2011 Convention, three different agreements were signed and delegates were able to witness firsthand the positive result of sound engagement efforts and good relationship building – activities that take time, respect, honesty and trust,” said Dr. Jobin-Bevans. “We were also pleased to welcome AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo and more than 400 self-identified Aboriginal delegates. We look forward to building on the program’s success for the 2012 PDAC Convention hope to see all of you there.”
PDAC represents the Canadian mineral exploration and development industry and is best known for its annual convention. Held every March in Toronto, it is the world’s largest annual mineral industry conference and this year we had more than 27,000 delegates – a new record – with representation from 120 countries.
Scott Jobin-Bevans is the President and a Director of the PDAC. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario and is a director and founding partner in Caracle Creek International Consulting Inc. He has raised capital for private and junior exploration companies; held management, director and officer positions with public companies; and managed multi-million dollar mineral exploration projects from early stage through advanced development.