Original story written by Northern Ontario Business at http://www.northernontariobusiness.com/Industry-News/aboriginal-businesses/2015/07/Metis-mining-supplier-set-to-open-second-shop.aspxminingAn employee of Excalibur Bits and Steel. (Photo source: Northern
Ontario Business)

Gerry Lafontaine, president of Excalibur Bits and Steel, a mining services company situated in Kirkland Lake, is preparing to open a second location in Dryden this upcoming fall.

The Métis Voyageur Development Fund (MVDF) provided $150,000 to Lafontaine and his wife, Carole, when they purchased a 9,000-square foot building in Kirkland Lake a year ago.

He has another application submitted to the MVDF for $300,000 to finance the Dryden expansion. Lafontaine also hopes to hire and train locals in the Ring of Fire, a mineral-rich section located in northern Ontario.

“That’s where I’m pushing to go, wherever I can open up in remote areas,” he informed Northern Ontario Business.

Due to lenders’ reluctance to assist a start-up business, securing finances was a huge challenge when Lafontaine made the decision to move his company. They had originally been located in Elk Lake but moved to Kirkland Lake in 2013 as a wiser business location for the industry.

Lafontaine and his wife, Carole, dipped into his pension in order to make on-site repairs to the shop and purchase many large pieces of equipment, such as a five-ton truck, loader and two delivery trucks. Thanks to MVDF assistance, they were able to obtain the needed equipment.

The government and the mining industry are pushing to involve Aboriginal people in the mining sector. Excalibur Bits and Steel currently has 10 employees, many of which are Métis or other Aboriginal women. Lafontaine works closely with the Aboriginal women in mining program.