BHP Agreements BHP will meet commitments

by Mark Sproxton
Northern News Services

NNSL (OCT 30/96) - Stephen Kakfwi says BHP Diamonds will live up to its commitments in the socio-economic agreement it signed with the territorial government last week.

 Although there are no penalties if commitments are not met by BHP, the minister of economic development said he believes expectations will be met.

"They have been very consistent," Kakfwi (left) said this week. "During the hearings they said they were going to hire Northerners and the company agreed to put it on paper."

There's a dispute-resolution section of the agreement that could be used to handle any differences, he added.

BHP's project manager, meanwhile, said if any commitment isn't being met the company will do all it can to figure out why.

"If something can't be met, there would be some reason," said Jim Excell last week. "And we'll try and work out what the reason is."

In the agreement, BHP agreed to: hire at least 33 per cent Northerners during the construction phase, increasing that to 72 per cent during production; work with the territorial government on training Northerners; and purchase 70 per cent of goods and services from Northern businesses.

Although the territorial government may not hold any punitive power, the federal government can use conditions of approval to ensure the company makes good on its word, Kakfwi said.

"It's goodwill on everybody's side," he said. "They've made some commendable commitments and we're going to work with them."

BHP wants to develop a diamond mine at Lac de Gras, 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.