Xstrata seeks New Brunswick miners – by Liz Cowan (Northern Ontario Business – October 2012)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

Xstrata Copper and the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) joined forces recently to recruit some potential employees. The Brunswick Mine in Bathurst, N.B., a division of Xstrata Zinc, is winding down operations since its mine life ends in 2013.

The Timmins operation, which includes the Kidd Mine and the metallurgical site, made a pitch to try and recruit some employees to Timmins.

“We gave a presentation on our operations and then the (TEDC) gave a presentation on the city itself,” said Brian Fleury, Xstrata senior human resources advisor in Timmins. “We had about 40 positions to fill at the time and we are always looking for those with mining experience. These would be very familiar with Xstrata’s way of doing things so they could fit in very well and hit the ground running.”

Cheryl St. Amour, director of business development and retention for the TEDC, offered the prospective employees an overview of what their life would be like in Timmins. “It wasn’t just the mine talking about their mine and their perspective of the community,” she said. “I talked about what the community offers.”

The Bathurst workers responded well to the community overview and they realized the two communities were somewhat similar.

“Comparisons were made between the two communities and both have that small-town charm, it’s spread out like us, the weather is similar, but, we just don’t have the ocean,” Fleury said.

Fourteen employees expressed an interest and they and their families were flown to Timmins for a few days to get a feel for the city and Xstrata’s operations.

“Out of those 14, nine accepted almost immediately so it was a success,” he said.

The partnership with the TEDC continued during the Timmins visit with St. Amour conducting a community tour.

“We took them from one end of the community to the other,” she said. “We told them about the hospital, took them to the shopping mall and we called in a real estate representative and showed them a house to see what they could get for a certain price.”

The group visited a school and learned about the school system and what recreational opportunities are available.

“We allowed them to get a real feel for what life in Timmins is about,” St. Amour said.

Xstrata had specific guidelines and time frames for recruiting from the Brunswick Mine, and offers of employment had to be made and accepted by a certain date.

“They wanted to know how many would be leaving and when since they have to ramp down there as well,” Fleury said.

Once the New Brusnswick operation is closed, there may be an opportunity to hire more if they are still interested.

“We can examine that then but if they have the skill set we are needing, how can we say no,” he said. “It is hard to find good, qualified people or to even train good, qualified people and have them stay. Most industries in Northern Ontario are having difficulty.”

The Brunswick Mine has about 800 employees and the Timmins operations have more than 1,000.

“This was a great opportunity for us and I see it as a success,” said Christy Marinig, CEO of the TEDC.

“It doesn’t have to be hundreds of people moving here but anyone who does means it is great for the community.”

The TEDC also promoted its jobs in Timmins website (www.jobsintimmins.com), a free platform for employers to post jobs.

“We tell employers to use this one in addition to any other one they use because we are actively promoting it at trade shows and events,” Marinig said. “We have had about 250 employers who have posted and about 15,000 hits from January to June so it is building momentum and the word is getting out there.”