Indigenous workers at Voisey’s Bay anxious about Vale review of nickel operations (Canadian Press – August 23, 2017)

MONTREAL — Global mining giant Vale’s decision to review its global operations in light of depressed nickel prices is causing anxiety among Indigenous workers at its Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador.

As part of its 60-day audit, the Brazilian miner (NYSE:VALE) has put on hold a decision about an underground expansion project at the Atlantic mine that would create more than 400 jobs and extend its life for 15 years.

“These are some of the higher paying jobs you find in our communities,” said Darryl Shiwak, Lands and Natural Resources Minister for the Inuit people of Nunatsiavut. “So with the high unemployment rate and the amount of seasonal work, these jobs are extremely important.”

More than half of the workforce in the remote area accessible by plane is Inuit or Innu, while more than 80 per cent of contracts are with Indigenous-owned and operated businesses. Pending the outcome of its review, Vale’s vice-president of corporate affairs and communications, Cory McPhee, said the miner will be in a better position to know what the path forward for the underground project looks like.

But detailed engineering and procurement related to the mine’s expansion which began last year is ongoing. Open pit operations in Voisey’s Bay and Long Harbour are continuing as normal, without layoffs, McPhee said.

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