BHP has announced a trio of contracts recently awarded in partnership with First Nation communities. Six First Nations near the Jansen potash site are part of the award based on Opportunity Agreements put in place beginning in 2012. The contracts cover camp management, site services and raw ore/handling foundation. In total, the three and a half year contracts are valued at $260 million. 

In BHP’s statement, they acknowledge that the Opportunity Agreements were created for mutual benefit of BHP and the First Nations communities involved. The stated goal is to forge new relationships between Indigenous Peoples and industry by creating local employment, business opportunity, and skills and capabilities for local residents. 

“Across our operations, it is our ambition to create long-term relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on trust and mutual benefit – and these contract awards demonstrate this ambition in action,” shared Vandita Pant, Chief Commercial Officer. “By integrating local suppliers and Indigenous businesses into our supply chain we are working hand-in-hand with First Nation partners to build long-term positive outcomes for communities and for BHP.”

The contracts support more than 400 local jobs with over 50 percent of those going to Indigenous workers. The release notes that over $470 million in contracts have been awarded to regional Indigenous businesses since the Jansen Stage 1 project was sanctioned in 2021. 

George Gordon First Nation is one of the beneficiaries. The camp management contract has been awarded to Wicehtowak Frontec Services, a joint-venture between ATCO Frontec Ltd. and George Gordon Developments Ltd. The joint venture was originally created in 2011 as a 50-50 partnership to support the construction of the Jansen Discovery Lodge, and today has evolved to a majority Indigenous-owned company.

The release also states that the site services and raw ore/handling foundation contracts have been awarded to 2Nations Bird - a new partnership between Bird Construction Inc., Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation’s Willow Cree Developments General Partner Inc., and Fishing Lake First Nation’s Development Corporation, FLFN Ventures.  2Nations Bird will work closely with KDM Constructors, who represent Kawakatoose, Day Star and Muskowekwan Nations, as well as George Gordon Developments Ltd, the economic development arm of the George Gordon First Nation.

Chief Ananas of Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation explains the impact of the contracts on his community, “Indigenous and industry partnerships, such as these, create economic and employment opportunities for our Nation and its members. It also allows us to develop capacity, learn from one another, and grow in tandem. More importantly, these types of relationships are critical to advance economic reconciliation which allows us to develop long-term, meaningful, and sustainable outcomes.”

As production in 2026 approaches, BHP continues to work with their First Nation Opportunity Agreement partners to identify key jobs and skillsets required for long term production. Apprenticeship programs like the ones at Carlton Trail College and other regional agencies are part of the mix in an effort to provide opportunities for those who may not have considered mining, particularly women and Indigenous workers. 

“We deeply appreciate our mutually beneficial agreements with First Nation partner communities and look forward to continuing to work together,” shared Caroline Cox, Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer. “Our partnerships are based on respect and through our work together we seek to better understand Indigenous voices, values, knowledge and perspectives and to incorporate them into the way we work. We strongly believe this will make BHP a more successful company.”