Prime Minister Stephen Harper talked about a northern mining jobs program for the second time in as many days on Tuesday, highlighting $5.8 million in federal funding over two years to train 400 aboriginal workers for mining jobs across Northern communities.

Continuing his six-day Northern Tour, the prime minister was in Hay River, N.W.T., on Tuesday, drawing attention to funding announced in the government's 2013 budget. The government will provide $5.8 million over two years to the Northwest Territories Mine Training Society for a new mining sector-skills training program.

"The North’s rapidly growing extractive industry is driving prosperity and creating demand for local skilled workers," Harper said.

"The support being provided today will help aboriginal participants in the North gain the training they need to access the jobs and prosperity being generated by the industry’s growth."

Many partners

The money will work alongside funding from other partners, including the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, Aurora College and the mining industry. Funding partners will collectively provide more than $6 million in support.

The money will be used to develop and implement a 25-month program in 11 communities across the Northwest Territories and in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, including Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Behchoko, Lutsel K’e, Inuvik, Deline, Hay River, Fort Smith, Yellowknife, Ndilo, and Dettah.

Training in Hay River will begin next month and in addition to Hay River, will happen at three major mine sites in the region: Rio Tinto's Diavik diamond mine, De Beers' Snap Lake diamond mine and Dominion Diamond Corporation's Ekati mine.

After their training, successful applicants will be placed in a variety of jobs by six local employers:

  • De Beers Canada
  • Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.
  • Avalon Rare Metals Inc.
  • Procon Mining and Tunnelling
  • We La Dai Corporation Ltd.
  • Bouwa Whee Catering

The money is part of a $210-million five-year program launched in July 2010 aimed at improving skills and training for local workers across Northern Canada.

Having the option for people to train in Hay River is something the Hay River Metis Council pushed for. It's president calls the program highlighted Tuesday a good step, but one that doesn't go far enough.

"Another thing I would love to see mine training do is introduce students in the high schools and pull the youth in to it," Wally Schumann told CBC News. "Mining is going to be around for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. We need to start not just developing adults but we need to start introducing this to the youth."