As construction progresses at BHP’s Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, the company has awarded three new contracts in partnership with local First Nation communities.
Covering camp management, site services and raw ore/handling foundation, the contracts include representation from the six First Nations surrounding the Jansen site, with whom BHP has Opportunity Agreements in place.
The Opportunity Agreements were first developed in 2012. These were the first of their kind and aim to create long term mutual benefit for BHP and First Nation communities, according to BHP.
“The agreements enhance our mutual capacity and are a way that industry can forge new relationships with Indigenous Peoples to create local employment, business opportunities and build the skills and capabilities of local residents,” the miner says.
Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer of BHP, added: “Across our operations, it is our ambition to create long-term relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on trust and mutual benefit – and these contract awards demonstrate this ambition in action. By integrating local suppliers and Indigenous businesses into our supply chain we are working hand-in-hand with First Nation partners to build long-term positive outcomes for communities and for BHP.”
The three-and-a-half year contracts are valued at over C$260 million ($188 million), and will support more than 400 local jobs with over 50% planned to be Indigenous. Since sanctioning Jansen Stage 1 in August 2021, a total of C$470 million in contracts have been awarded to Indigenous businesses in the region, according to BHP.
To support the work at Jansen, BHP has been a catalyst for First Nation Opportunity Agreement holders coming together with industry partners, it says.
The camp management contract has been awarded to Wicehtowak Frontec Services, a joint-venture between ATCO Frontec Ltd and George Gordon Developments Ltd. The joint venture was originally created in 2011 as a 50:50 partnership to support the construction of the Jansen Discovery Lodge, and today has evolved to a majority Indigenous-owned company.
The site services and raw ore/handling foundation contracts have been awarded to 2Nations Bird – a new partnership between Bird Construction Inc, Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation’s Willow Cree Developments General Partner Inc and Fishing Lake First Nation’s Development Corporation, FLFN Ventures. 2Nations Bird will work closely with KDM Constructors, who represent Kawakatoose, Day Star and Muskowekwan Nations, as well as George Gordon Developments Ltd, the economic development arm of the George Gordon First Nation.
Chief Ananas of Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation said: “Indigenous and industry partnerships, such as these, create economic and employment opportunities for our Nation and its members. It also allows us to develop capacity, learn from one another and grow in tandem. More importantly, these types of relationships are critical to advance economic reconciliation which allows us to develop long-term, meaningful and sustainable outcomes.”
As BHP moves towards operations at Jansen, anticipated to start in late-2026, it is working with First Nation Opportunity Agreement partners, and other Indigenous groups to identify jobs and skillsets it will require long term at Jansen, BHP said.
BHP has partnered with local organisations in Saskatchewan to provide pre-apprenticeship programs to help build awareness of opportunities in the trades and prepare individuals for the skills necessary to enter the mining industry. Through these programs BHP hopes to attract more people who may not have considered a career in mining, particularly women and Indigenous people in the region.
Caroline Cox, Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer at BHP, said: “We deeply appreciate our mutually beneficial agreements with First Nation partner communities and look forward to continuing to work together. Our partnerships are based on respect and through our work together we seek to better understand Indigenous voices, values, knowledge and perspectives and to incorporate them into the way we work. We strongly believe this will make BHP a more successful company.”