Building northern communities

Building northern communitiesDiavik has developed a northern mining operation with a predominantly northern workforce. To support its employment commitments, Diavik has established hiring practices that gives first consideration to Aboriginal people, with special emphases on residents from neighbouring communities, including the Northwest Territories and West Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut. During construction, more than 40 per cent of the several hundred people who built the Diavik mine were northern residents, and CAD$900 million in contracts went to northern firms.

Diavik has introduced measures to assist in recruiting, retaining and developing northern employees, including:

  • Actively promoting and encouraging careers in the diamond mining industry to northern youth.
  • Identifying opportunities and encouraging northern students to gain summer employment in the industry.
  • Employing and training eight to 18 apprentices.
  • Reducing employment barriers through the establishment and application of minimum acceptable standards for trainable positions.
  • Providing a northern cost of living allowance.
  • Providing active scholarships and stay in school programs.
  • Encouraging Aboriginal workers to reside in their home communities by providing free round-trip transportation, expanding point-of-pickup communities in the region and providing employee and family assistance programs.
    The Diavik Diamond Mine has offered much to the region, not only in terms of jobs, but also in terms of training and capacity-building for communities.

Construction benefits

The construction of the Diavik Diamond Mine led to many benefits for northern communities.

During the Diavik Diamond Mine construction phase, employment averaged approximately 800 workers, peaking at about 1,500. Construction employment was 44 per cent northern surpassing the 40 per cent northern employment goal, with half the northern workforce being northern Aboriginal. Of the almost CAD$1.3 billion in construction contracts and contract commitments, approximately CAD$900 million were with northern businesses. Of this, over CAD$600 million was with northern Aboriginal joint ventures and northern Aboriginal firms. The level of 74 per cent northern spending almost doubled Diavik's 38 per cent commitment formalized in the Diavik Socio-Economic Monitoring Agreement.

Diavik helped create a community based training partnership with communities, contractors, governments, and educational institutions. Training included classroom study and hands-on training on actual community infrastructure projects. Many graduates reported increased levels of self-esteem and confidence.

Diavik's community-based training partnerships created some 234 graduates during construction, most of whom found employment with Diavik contractors, at other mine sites, or local community governments. A number of these graduates ultimately joined the Diavik operations workforce.

Operations benefits

The Diavik Diamond Mine has brought about growth in employment and training opportunities for people of the North.

Diavik's commitment to the development and continuous learning of its employees has seen the establishment of training policies and practices that assist employees in enhancing their skills and performance. Operations training build worker confidence and raise skill levels, creating a safer workforce and allow workers to continue training and advance their career objectives. Training initiatives include:

  • training for operation specialized equipment, including haul trucks and processing equipment;
  • training to enhancing workplace skills; and
  • supervisory and management training.

Further professional development is available through a full-time Workplace Learning Centre that Diavik established on site, where workplace educators assist workers in developing career plans, and in finding specific training, or upgrading programs to assist them on their career path. Diavik's Aboriginal Development Program, based on SAIT Polytechnic's applied management certificate program, offers more than 160 hours of leadership training and mentoring from Diavik staff. It is designed to ensure Aboriginal people are employed at all levels throughout the organization.  Since the 2004 pilot program, several groups have graduated with a total of over 50 graduates. This program has now transitioned to the Aurora College and is open to all northerners. Diavik continues to support the program with participants. 

Diavik is committed to employing 66 per cent northern workforce with 40 per cent Aboriginal during mine operations. At year-end, Diavik employed 485 northerners, above original feasibility studies estimates. 

Central to skilling communities in the region are the northern apprenticeships Diavik offers. At year-end 2013, there were 27 apprentices at Diavik, all of whom are northerners of which 14 are Aboriginal. Since 2003, 35 northerners have achieved journeyperson designations at Diavik.

In 2010, we committed to add 86 new apprentices through 2020. 

Through such measures, Diavik expects that it will meet, and exceed, its employment commitments embodied in its Socio-Economic Monitoring Agreement.

Partnerships with northern businesses

Diavik is committed to fostering long-term sustainable business relationships in the North, ensuring that northern businesses participate and benefit from the mine. During 2013, Diavik spent $362 million on goods and services, of which 72 per cent was with northern business. Since construction began in 2000, Diavik total cumulative spending is $6.0 billion, with total northern spending of $4.3 billion (72 per cent). Of the $4.3 billion, some $2.3 billion is with northern Aboriginal companies.

Some of the Diavik's northern contractors include:

  • Bouwa Whee: supplies catering and camp services; (Bouwa Whee is a Yellowknives Dene First Nation company, previously, the contract was with a Yellowknives Dene First Nation joint venture company;
  • Tli Cho Logistics: supplies site services contract (road and airstrip maintenance, snow clearing, handling of aircraft on ground). Tli Cho Logistics is a good example of a new Aboriginal company that Diavik helped to create and which has grown with Diavik's support;
  • Denesoline Western Explosives and;
  • Kitikmeot Cementation Mining Development: runs a training program to help Diavik create Aboriginal underground miners for the next stage of its mining operations.

Socio-economic benefits generated by Diavik are published publicly in its SEMA reports.