Above target
BHP comfortable with workforce at Ekati

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 14/98) - BHP says its Ekati diamond project is on budget and on target with its Northern and aboriginal workforce.

More than 70 per cent of their 400 employees are Northern hires, easily beating their target level of 62 per cent. According to BHP estimates, about 31 per cent of employees at the mine are aboriginal. The target is 31 per cent, or half of the total northern hire target.

"We're in a stage right now of transition from the construction to the permanent workforce. We've hired close to 400 people now on the permanent workforce so that's well-advanced in terms or our recruitment," said Graham Nicholls, spokesperson for BHP.

Positions are in mining operations, Ekati's processing plant, maintenance, administrative positions and security.

BHP still has somewhere around 50 to 60 positions left open for hire.

BHP's sorting and valuation facility, to be built near the airport, will require initially about another 15 employees including sorters, administrative staff, security, supervisors and managers.

The hiring of positions for construction of the sorting and valuation plant will be done by a contractor. Tenders for the project are now being received.

"This is not a large facility in the scheme of things. The employment generated from the construction itself will not be significant," said Nicholls.

October 14 has been designated for the ceremonial opening of Ekati mine.

"Our initial production in an operating sense as opposed to testing only would be in October," Nicholls added.