Mining Week kicks off with announcement of $15M project for Sask. Resource Council

A $15 million project will allow the Saskatchewan Resource Council to consolidate its mining and mineral operations into a single building. (Government of Saskatchewan/Submitted)

The Government of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) announced a $15 million project for the province’s construction industry on Monday.

The project—which the government said will bring immediate construction jobs and have a long-term impact on the mining and minerals industry—was voiced at the beginning of Saskatchewan Mining Week.

“This infrastructure investment will allow SRC to consolidate SRC’s mining and minerals operations into a single fit-for-purpose building so we can continue to provide critical services to support the mining and minerals industry in the province and beyond,” said SRC President and CEO Mike Crabtree in a news release.

“It will allow SRC to optimize and expand expertise and capabilities thereby more effectively enabling Saskatchewan’s natural resource industries, including diamond, potash, uranium, gold and base metals, to thrive.”

The project is part of the provincial government’s $7.5 billion two-year capital plan to stimulate Saskatchewan’s economic recovery.

The government has proclaimed May 31 to June 6 as mining week. This year’s theme is “Mining: Essential to Local and Global Communities.”

“This week highlights the resilience and success of our mining sector and its growing diversification, including into diamonds, nickel and copper,” said Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre.

“In recent years, Saskatchewan has proudly welcomed new mining companies to the province. We offer some of the most extensive mineral research labs in the world, internationally renowned geoscience and extensive junior exploration opportunities.”

According to the government’s news release, Saskatchewan’s mining sector is “well positioned” to emerge as a leader in economic recovery despite the market conditions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, the release continued, Saskatchewan produced 12.6Mt K2O of potash, more than any other country and about 30 per cent of the world’s total. The province is also the world’s second-largest uranium producer, accounting for roughly 13 per cent of global production.

Tammy Van Lambalgen, chair of the Saskatchewan Mining Association (SMA), joined Eyre in Regina for the launch of mining week.

“While the importance of mining operations in Saskatchewan has always been recognized, the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought focus to the essential nature of mining, and its supply chains, in providing food, clean energy and critical minerals, as well as essential jobs to our economy”, said Van Lambalgen.

The release said the pandemic has provided an opportunity for the SMA to have clarity on its values and recognize the importance of keeping its employees and communities safe. The SMA has been doing this with increased safety protocols and restricted access to mines.

To protect the northern region, it’s suspended production at all remote mines and mills. Employees have been sent home with temporary pay.

Despite these hardships, said the release, the province’s mining industry has been resilient and provided communities with over $2.5 million in financial assistance, as well as provided personal protective equipment and essential goods to non-profits, community organizations and Indigenous and emergency response groups.

“Saskatchewan Mining Week provides an opportunity to recognize the achievements and contributions of our industry to the economic growth of Saskatchewan,” said Pam Schwann, president of the SMA.

“During these challenging times, we are privileged to be able to continue to make a difference and improve the quality of life for Saskatchewan people by providing essential work to employees and suppliers, by continuing to contribute to government revenues to fund health, education and infrastructure programs and by providing community support.”

Saskatchewan Mining Week includes a virtual launch, activities and presentations, highlights of the province’s mining sector and its contributions to local communities and the provincial and global economy.