A Prince George-based drilling company which operates all over the world is cementing its northern business operations by establishing a partnership with the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, the business arm of the Tahltan Nation whose traditional territory takes in a swath of northwestern B.C.
Doing so not only makes good business sense in the competitive world of drilling services but it’s the right thing to do amidst the growing connectivity between businesses and aboriginal communities, says Geotech Drilling Services sustainability vice president Tim Mohring.
For Geotech the catalyst was the Supreme Court of Canada victory on the part of the Tsilhqot’in First Nations in the Chilcotin which strengthened aboriginal title over land and resources.
“That opened our eyes to the wholesale change in the way things should be done, in my opinion, in Canada and northern B.C. specifically,” said Mohring.
The partnership with the Tahltan under the name of Tahltech Drilling Services Ltd. follows similar relationships elsewhere, including one in Nunavut, he said.
And in the Terrace area, Geotech works closely with the Kitselas First Nation.
Although Geotech has worked on mining exploration projects in the area, it would be a mistake to regard Geotech to be solely concerned with the search for minerals, just because it has the word ‘drilling’ in its name, said Mohring.
Its expertise extends to geotechnical drilling for industrial projects and general construction and drilling to determine the state of in-ground contamination.
“We’ve done a lot in the area,” says Mohring, listing off a series of projects including Rio Tinto and activity encompassing proposed routes for natural gas line pipelines which would feed proposed liquefied natural gas plants. “Pacific Trails Pipeline. Coastal GasLink. Pacific NorthWest LNG. WCC LNG.”
The ability by Geotech to work in a diversified environment makes its partnership with the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation that much more beneficial.
“It gives us a competitive advantage,” said Mohring when it comes to speaking with potential clients with projects within Tahltan territory.
And for the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, the Tahltech Drilling Services partnership gives it Geotech’s expertise and experience in building its economic base within Tahltan territory.
Development corporation CEO Garry Merkel said adding Geotech to its suite of business partnerships makes it the drilling services company of choice for work within Tahltan territory.
“Our aim, when large companies come speak to us, is to offer a full suite of services,” said Merkel. “Geotech is now the preferred drilling services company.”
Just for Geotech’s mining exploration expertise alone, Merkel said the Tahltan are anticipating an upswing in ore prices which will trigger an increase in mineral searches within their territory.
“We aim, on our territory, to have that full suite of services from start to finish: health, safety, environmental, geotech, camp services, construction, soil testing,” Merkel said.
“What we can prove is that we can offer quality services and be cost effective.”
Within that intent, then comes business opportunities and jobs for Tahltan, he added.
Tahltech Drilling is already zeroing in on one project, drilling at the Imperial Metals Red Chris copper and gold mine site as it works on its tailings pond configuration.
With the addition of Geotech, the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation now has approximately 30 joint business ventures with companies of one kind or another.
A good number of those were added in recent years as the corporation ramped up to meet increased industrial activity on its territory and in anticipation of that increase continuing.
With economic activity now levelled off, Merkel said not all of those arrangements are still needed and that some will be discontinued.