The company behind what could become Canada’s first primary cobalt mine has agreed to hire and spend locally.

Fortune Minerals signed a socio-economic agreement with the GNWT Tuesday, which sets out hiring and spending targets from the proposed NICO mine near Whati. The GNWT commits to providing a trained workforce, a news release states, in return Fortune Minerals commits to prioritize locals.

“(The agreement) provides targets for local employment, local business spending, education and training.”

Tlicho, Yellowknives Dene and North Slave Metis Alliance members are first priority for hiring, followed by Indigenous residents of the NWT then NWT residents who have lived in the territory for at least six months.

The agreement states Fortune Minerals must make ‘best efforts’ to employ locals. The hiring target, including hiring by contractors, is 60 per cent NWT residents during operations, 50 per cent of them being Indigenous. During construction the aim is 35 per cent NWT residents, 50 per cent of them Indigenous.

Some of these targets are lower than socio-economic agreements signed with other NWT mines, the GNWT states, due to a limited workforce many of whom are already employed at other mines.

“Many who could be employed in positions available at the NICO project are likely already employed by the mines already operating.”

Fortune Minerals has plans to make the NICO mine, located near Whati in the Tlicho region, Canada’s first cobalt mine in addition to mining bismuth, gold and copper.

The agreement was signed at a week-long mineral exploration conference in Vancouver, where territorial politicians and Indigenous governments are making a united push to promote mining in the NWT. The sector accounted for 32 per cent of the territory’s economy in 2017, a news release states.

The Association for Mineral Exploration’s Roundup is on until January 31st.