TNDC’s Business Partnership Model Profiled in New Aboriginal Supplier Procurement Report

TNDC is featured in Partnerships in Procurement – Understanding Aboriginal Engagement in the Canadian Mining Industry, a new report by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) and Engineers Without Borders. The report provides a snapshot of the state of procurement opportunities for Aboriginal suppliers in Canada’s mining industry. It spotlights relationships between Aboriginal businesses and mining companies, aims to increase Aboriginal supplier involvement and engagement in the supply chain and identify ways both parties can work together for mutual benefit.

TNDC perspective

TNDC’s chief executive officer, Garry Merkel, vice president of operations and Spatsizi Remote Services (its camp services division), Edward Van Mierlo, and other employees were among 80 individuals, from mining company staff working in procurement and sustainability to independent Aboriginal business owners supplying local mining operations, researchers spoke with.

Case study profile

TNDC’s successful business partnership model is profiled in a case study (page 37). Establishing strategic partnerships was driven by management’s early recognition of the importance of service diversification in a region heavily dependent on natural resources, which continue to bring diverse skills and opportunities. These include joint business ventures with almost 30 private companies to provide services ranging from IT communications and camp services to environmental monitoring and drilling/blasting to road and power line construction.

Co-management partnership

The case study cites TNDC’s most innovative agreement with Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Development Company: the Tahltan Nation and mine have signed a co-management agreement which stipulates TNDC employees will be active partners in the co-management of the tailings facility and operations; an often contentious operation for Aboriginal communities. The report asserts the success of this business partnership suggests involving local Aboriginal businesses not only gives mining companies the benefit of Aboriginal environmental and land use management expertise, but also demonstrates partnerships build stronger support for operations in the area.

Community benefits

Edward shared how TNDC’s success flows far beyond the office boundaries, fostering strong community roots. For its local supply needs, TNDC sources from the local store and anyone doing orientation for Red Chris or other projects relies upon the two motels in town for lodging. These economic benefits have stayed in the Dease Lake community, and fostered a sense of community involvement TNDC enjoys. “The more we make out of it, the more we both benefit,” he said.

Company benefits

TNDC’s work on the Red Chris tailings impoundment area and building roads was again cited (page 7), touting the benefits of engaging local Aboriginal businesses and employing local Aboriginal employees, which translates into better worker retention and lower recruitment costs,. Mine staff lauded the immense value of TNDC’s diverse service offering being located within 80 km of the operations, much closer than bringing in supplies seven hours by road or two hours by plane, particularly in the winter.

Capacity building

Garry says being strategic about partnerships has been a central strategy to TNDC’s 30-year success and the corporation takes a long-term approach to building capacity within the corporation. He offers sage advice for Aboriginal development corporations: “Ask – what are your goals? What do you want to get out of it for your people? Do you want to run it on your own? You can only get out of it as much as you put into it. You need to be actively involved in your partnership.”

You can view the full report on the visit the CCAB website.

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