Aboriginal communities are increasingly moving forward with economic development in many different sectors.
Mining companies have also become more proactive in regards to environmental protection and First Nation consultation. Nimkie Mining Services Corp. has become an effective part of the process in bridging the gaps between culture and industry.
Nimkie, based in Temagami, Ont., was incorporated in 2014, and is a 100% aboriginal owned company. The CEO of the company, Randall Becker, started working with heavy equipment as a summer student at the age of 14. The supervisor, Tom Friday, was a very talented and experienced mechanic, and vehicles and equipment were often repaired with ingenuity and limited resources, which was the case in most First Nation communities at the time.
Becker attended Canadore College studying automotive mechanics and later went on to work for contractors in construction, mining exploration and mining companies throughout Northern Ontario.
“Some of the people that one works with over a decade or two stand out as being leaders and teachers,” said Becker.
One in particular who he had the opportunity to work with was a man named Charlie Berube, who was a master mechanic at the Sherman mine and later a successful contractor. Machinery and vehicles were repaired as required and in most cases everything from tires to engines and hydraulic pumps were rebuilt in the shop.
“Education from people like this is the most valuable training a person can receive. There is a long list of supervisors and coworkers who took the time to help and lead by example in other occupations like underground mining, mine-mill operations, construction, and pipeline work. This is the experience that helped build the base of Nimkie Mining Services training programs,” said Becker.
In order to make the training programs more effective, Nimkie uses accredited trainers and courses. The courses are delivered in the First Nation communities. This allows the students to remain at home with their families as well as giving the entire community the opportunity to benefit.
Being an aboriginal owned company, they have come up with effective ways to encourage traditional beliefs and hunting seasons to take precedent during the heavy equipment and diamond driller training programs.
Ed McVeigh, of Canadian Driller Traning from Sudbury and Asabanaka Drill Services in Kasabonika Lake, plays a big role in Nimkie Mining Services delivering the best possible programs anywhere in Canada.
Becker believes that the importance of accredited training close to home produces better results with more opportunities for the communities and the people. This also benefits the mining companies and contractors who employ the graduates by lowering the turnover rate and improving the productivity of new hires.
“When a relationship between a First Nation community and a mining company is working to the benefit of both parties as well as protecting the environment for future generations, mining becomes an essential part of living and prospering in the north for everyone,” said Becker.
Nimkie is currently in the process of opening a Class 11 aggregate pit near Temagami that will require drilling, blasting, crushing and quality control. The Township of Temagami has shown support for this project as did a lot of the residents who would prefer mining return to Temagami region.
The project will hopefully go into production in June 2017.
There is also plan to hold practical training for heavy equipment and surface diamond driller courses on the site for both urban aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people. The practical portion of the courses will be held in Temagami.
Nimkie (www.NimkieMining.net) will continue to strive for improved training and better relationships between First Nations and the mining industry.
Front Row, left to right: Shawn Batise (Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation), Jason Batise (executive director, Wabun Tribal Council). Middle Row: Chief Murray Ray (Flying Post First Nation), Chief Alex (Sonny) Batisse (Matachewan First Nation), Ron Clayton (president and CEO of Tahoe Resources), Chief Walter Naveau (Mattagami First Nation), Sharon Plourde (Wahgoshig First Nation) Back Row: Ken Peterson (negotiator for Wahgoshig First Nation).