Partnering with Aboriginal Communities
At New Gold we are proud of our strong relationships with our Aboriginal partners. Our approach is to be respectful and inclusive as we work to understand the goals and values of the Aboriginal people in our areas of exploration and operation. We seek to engage early and meaningfully and to reach early collaborative agreements that reflect an understanding of the history of the area and its traditional uses as well as the needs, concerns and aspirations of our Aboriginal partners. These agreements are also aimed at creating jobs, training and lasting socio-economic benefits.
Our partnerships go beyond hiring and contracting; Aboriginal partners participate in environmental audits, committees and reclamation projects. They also play a critical role in our efforts to bring traditional knowledge to the way we manage the environmental aspects of our mines, particularly during closure activities.
Education and training of local community members is key to our policy of striving to hire locally, and sourcing services and supplies from nearby. In communities where the required skill sets and/or work experience are in short supply, we provide funding for education and training. We also offer numerous apprenticeship programs to help young workers on their path to a career in mining. In British Columbia, for example, our support for the Underground Miner Training Program and founding support for the Aboriginal Mentoring and Training Association have resulted in many local Aboriginal residents beginning successful careers in the industry.
The New Afton Mine enjoys a positive relationship with the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation, which represents the two First Nations (Skeetchestn Indian Band and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Band) in whose asserted traditional territory the mine site is situated. A Participation Agreement with the Bands was signed in 2008 and amended in 2011, and has been instrumental in guiding discussion and providing input and oversight in the areas of environmental stewardship, business opportunities, employment, education and training, and socio-economics. The Agreement is a partnership that is managed through respectful dialogue and ongoing information sharing between multiple levels of management on both sides. This collaborative, multi-tiered approach ensures that these communities benefit economically, while safeguarding their environmental and cultural interests.
Our Rainy River project is located near several Aboriginal communities, including 15 First Nations and the local Métis Nation of Ontario community councils. To date, we have succeeded in signing Participation or Impact Benefit Agreements with eight of the communities. Discussions are ongoing with several other First Nations. These agreements provide a framework for ongoing dialogue with the communities and also ensure that the communities benefit from opportunities such as employment, training and contracting associated with the Rainy River operation.
At Blackwater, we have three Exploration Agreements and four Environmental Assessment Capacity Funding Agreements and are engaging with all First Nations involved in the project. These positive relationships have already facilitated considerable employment and contracting opportunities, including multimillion-dollar contracts relating to camp drill support, camp security, reclamation activities, trail construction and support, logging and trail layout, road maintenance, camp install and catering, core box storage racks supply and first aid services.
At New Gold we believe our Aboriginal partners bring significant value to our operations and are key to our mutual success. In Canada, we have been recognized for excellence in Aboriginal relations and as an advocate for entrepreneurship and economic development within Aboriginal communities.