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Quarry paves way for contract bidding.

Production at a North Bay-area aggregate quarry is moving ahead, thanks to a new partnership finalized between Markham-based Miller Paving Ltd. and the Nipissing First Nation.

"We are seeing a lot of activity this summer and will see more as we go into the fall," says Nipissing First Nation Chief Phil Goulais, referring to the quarry located about five kilometres outside North Bay limits along Highway 17.

According to Goulais, blasting is already going on at the site and crushing has begun. Miller has also started selling the existing aggregate inventory from the quarry on the market. Miller Paving is a 2,600-employee business with interests in road construction, paving and industrial construction projects.

The band entered into an agreement with Grant Paving Ltd. on June 3, 2004 to lease the land to the company. The Aboriginal community had run the quarry itself and had also entered into a previous contract with a Sudbury-based concrete business. The band was not satisfied with the level of production they were achieving under either arrangement. According to Miller Paving representatives, the company approached Nipissing First Nation through their New Liskeard office, with an offer to make the quarry more profitable.

"This means opportunity for increased revenue for the community, as well as direct spinoff employment as a result of Miller locating on our land," Goulais says.

As an integrated commercial operation across the province, Miller Paving is well-positioned to secure contracts in other areas of construction, such as concrete (which includes aggregate) for industrial properties and private homes, says Richard Grant, vice-president and general counsel for Miller Paving.

As well as taking advantage of new markets, company officials are also convinced that they can take advantage of being located along the Trans-Canada Highway and can service much of the market better than their competitors.

"A lot of the dynamics in this is proximity to the job," says Grant. "Aggregate is very heavy and the competitive advantage is that the truck haul is much less."

Grant says that the quarry's position between Thunder Bay and Sudbury--the two main economic centres of Northern Ontario--makes it ideal. He also contends that the quarry will make the Nipissing First Nation a real competitor in bidding for lucrative contracts in North Bay, including the building of a future hospital in the city.

The recent opening of enhanced production at the quarry comes on the heels of an Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines announcement at the end of June that the province will be investing $236 million into fixing Northern Ontario's roads, an irony not lost on Grant.

www.millergroup.ca

By JOSEPH QUESNEL

Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2004 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Special Report: Aboriginal Business; Nipissing First Nation
Author:Quesnel, Joseph
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Aug 1, 2004
Words:440
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