Raymond Goldie is a senior mining analyst with Salman Partners Incorporated and is the author of “Inco Comes to Labrador” (Flanker Press, 2005). This article was written in December, 2008.
Since the late twentieth century, there have been remarkable changes in the world’s mining industry’s attitudes with respect to community relations. The mining industry has come to recognize that it is of critical importance to engage the local community in mining development, and it has acted accordingly. The development of the Voisey’s Bay mine in northern Labrador by Inco Ltd. and its successor, Vale Inco, has epitomized these changes in attitudes and actions.
In 2002, Voisey’s Bay Nickel Company (“VBNC”, now Vale Inco Newfoundland and Labrador ), then a subsidiary of Inco (and now of Vale Inco), made deals with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and with First Nations groups in the vicinity of the Voisey’s Bay mineral deposit. These deals allowed Vale Inco to develop a mine and concentrator at Voisey’s Bay. This operation produces concentrates (which are feedstock for smelters and refineries) of nickel and copper. The deals also obliged Vale Inco to provide training, employment and business opportunities for members of local communities (including the engagement of local Labradoreans in caring for and monitoring Voisey’s Bay’s natural environment) , and to improve the provision of health care and other social services to those communities.