BHP Billiton, one of the largest mining companies in Saskatchewan, has teamed up with local First Nation to connect 15 homes to its water treatment plant.

In 2013, BHP Billiton signed an opportunities agreement with Day Star First Nations. The agreement outlined how they would work together on opportunities in area of community development, employment, and training.

For decades, community members had to rely on cisterns and trucked water for their households and identifying ways to secure a clean water supply was a priority.

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A number of years ago, the community was able to get a low pressure water system to a number of homes in the core town area. Funding and project limitations prevented those involved from being able to connect 15 homes located a few kilometers west of Yorkton until recently.

The current water project focused on connecting these 15 homes to BHP Billiton’s water treatment plant, while also examining the current health, safety and financial issues of the existing water system.

Chief Lloyd Buffalo told the CBC News that, “It was something that was needed. Of course with that, there’s the potential of surface water running into the cisterns and it’s not a good system for the residents.”

With around 150 residents living in the community, a number of individuals have been hired by contractors, performing work at the sites. The company has also helped pay for a day care service in the community, as well as a new grader.

Ken Smith, who is the community manager at BHP Billiton said, “This is a real example of what happens when a First Nation [community] is able to clearly identify a priority, work together and try to find a solution. At the end of the day the First Nations managed the project. It was within schedule and under the budget which is good new for everybody.”

Photo: The signing of the Opportunities Agreement for the Jansen Project with the three First Nations in November of 2013. In the picture, from Left to Right is former Chief Darin Poorman of Kawacatoose First Nation, Chief Lloyd Buffalo of Day Star First Nation, Alex Archila who is the past President of Potash for BHP Billiton and Chief Reg Bellerose of Muskowekwan First Nation.
Photo: The signing of the Opportunities Agreement for the Jansen Project with the three First Nations in November of 2013. (L-R) former chief Darin Poorman of Kawacatoose First Nation, chief Lloyd Buffalo of Day Star First Nation, Alex Archila who is the past president of Potash for BHP Billiton and chief Reg Bellerose of Muskowekwan First Nation.

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