February 26, 2004
(Natural Resources)


Natural Resources minister sets record straight on Voisey’s Bay contracts

Ed Byrne, Minister of Natural Resources, refuted today comments which have been made by the Leader of the Opposition concerning the Industrial and Employment Benefits Agreement (IBEA) for the development of the Voisey’s Bay Project.

Minister Byrne said the statements of the opposition have caused him to wonder whether the agreement he is aware of is the same agreement to which the opposition is referring.

"There is certainly nothing in the Industrial and Employment Benefits Agreement that states that the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Company can only award a contract to a company outside the province after that was agreed to by government," said Minister Byrne. "The agreement does spell out some measures to ensure local companies benefit from the project. However, the agreement does not require Voisey’s Bay Nickel to award work to local companies as is being suggested."

In referencing the IBEA, Minister Byrne said Section 4.3.2 states that the proponent shall provide qualified provincial suppliers with a full and fair opportunity to participate on a competitive basis in the supply of goods and commercial services during all phases of the project including development, construction and operations. Further, Section 4.4.1 states that, to facilitate an efficient bidding process, the proponent shall use best efforts to pre-qualify potential suppliers of goods and commercial services on the basis of relevant commercial and technical attributes and criteria (including, without limitation, capability, capacity, competence, technical/financial resources and experience) and only pre-qualified bidders will be invited to bid.

"Nowhere in this agreement is there a clause that states that government has to sign off on decisions that will see work go outside the province as suggested by the opposition," said Minister Byrne. "Nor can this government seek to amend this agreement - again another suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition."

Minister Byrne further questioned the position of the Leader of the Opposition considering that, in May 2003 while his party was in power, two contracts were awarded for off-site fabrication work to companies outside of the province.

"In the most recent contract for the 2,500 tonnes of steel, I am pleased to say that 70 per cent of that will be done in this province - that is on our watch," said the minister. "Again, we have a situation where the Leader of the Opposition is operating in a world of double standards. There was a certain standard when he was running government, and there is a different standard today now that our government is in power."

Minister Byrne indicated he will be monitoring the Voisey’s Bay project very closely as its development proceeds.

"I am committed to building a relationship with this company and I have agreement from the company that they are willing to work with us," said Minister Byrne. "My commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is that I will use whatever leverage available to me to see that we maximize both the industrial and employment benefits of Voisey’s Bay."

The full text of Minister Byrne’s statement today is available:

The legal agreements relative to the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Project can be accessed at:

Media contact: Carmel Turpin, Communications (709) 729-5282

2004 02 26                                        3:00 p.m.

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