Second Raw Materials Conference officially opens in Prince Albert

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Delegates had a chance to look at potash samples from Nutrien on Monday at the Mahon Theatre in the Prince Albert Public Library during the opening of the International Conference and Exhibition for Raw Materials (ICERMs) 2024.

The second International Conference and Exhibition for Raw Materials (ICERMs) 2024 kicked off officially in the Mahon Theatre at the Prince Albert Public Library on Monday morning.

The topic of conference is “Increasing the Visibility of Alberta’s Raw Material.’’ CaCeRMDI President Osagie “Leo” Ekhaguere explained that the purpose of the conference was to drive progress.

“ICERMs serve as a pivotal platform for exchanging of knowledge, ideas and innovations in the field of raw materials,” he explained. “With the global demand for sustainable and efficient resource management being on the rise our conference plays a crucial role in fostering collaboration and driving progress in this dynamic sector.”

The conference opened with Trina Bell of Prince Albert Tourism, who appeared in place of Mayor Greg Dionne officially declaring the conference open. Member of Parliament Randy Hoback sent a video greeting and Dr. Yomi Akinjobi brought greetings from the Nigerian in Northern Saskatchewan group. Premier Danielle Smith of Alberta has sent a letter to greet the delegates.

Ekhaguere gave opening remarks and was the keynote speaker.

The centre also launched its first-ever book, Global Distribution of Raw Materials: A Comprehensive Guide for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Industry Professionals. Delegates received a copy of the book for free.

They also launched the CaCeRMDI journal, the Journal of the Canadian Center for Raw Materials, featuring the discussions from the first conference in 2023, which delegates also received for free.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald CaCeRMDI President Osagie “Leo” Ekhaguere is surrounded by delegates and dignitaries on Monday at the Mahon Theatre in the Prince Albert Public Library during the opening of the International Conference and Exhibition for Raw Materials (ICERMs) 2024.

Ekhaguere said the goal is for each conference to have its own journal so delgates will have information on all raw materials discussed at the conference.

“The book was published in Canada but printed in Nigeria because we want to increase trade between Nigeria and Canada,” Ekhaguere said. “We want to increase trade between Canada and Nigeria and also want to increase trade between Canada and the rest of the world as we begin to engage with other persons from other part of the world.”

There are 14 delegates from Nigeria in attendance, mostly because of the profile Ekhaguere developed before he came to Canada. He previously worked as a scientific officer for the Nigerian government.

Ekhaguere said the conference will continue until May 2. There will be two days of sessions in Prince Albert and then on Wednesday the delegates will be touring a farm in the Prince Albert area.

He said that they will explain how Alberta and Saskatchewan are different in terms of raw materials
“(It’s) to make them understand that there’s a partnership between Saskatchewan and Alberta in every form,” he explained.

He said that the delegates are all talented researchers in the field.

“We want them to be interested in bringing their strength to our country, so if ever they ever want to stay in this country, they should choose our city, they should choose our province. That is what we’re trying to do to make it very interesting for them,” Ekhaguere explained.

Esther Akinjobi, who recently finished first in the Essay and Quiz Competition also presented her essay on Monday. Later in the day the group also toured the University of Saskatchewan Prince Albert Campus.

Ekhaguere is also looking to grow the board of the Canadian Centre for Raw Materials and is calling on raw materials experts from Saskatchewan and Canada to join the board.

“If my profile is attracting people from Nigeria, we need people of my kind of profile that can attract people from that part of the world. The more people, the more we are, the better for us,” he said.

He is also looking to apply for grants and looking for support from donor agencies to allow him to hire staff for the not for profit corporation. Ekhaguere is currently the only staff.

“It is no longer an idea,” he said. “It’s a functional corporation, so we want to attract grants and donations from individuals and organizations so that we can have enough staff and run a conference easier.”

The conference was run with volunteers. Ekhaguere said that the delegates visited several stores in Prince Albert.

“They have been in our city, they are spending their money. That money stays in our economy, so if we can have people that will support the Canadian Centre for Raw Materials with donations and grants, it will empower us to be able to employ,” Ekhaguere said.

He added that before the next conference in November they want some permanent employees so that Ekhaguere will have less of a burden.

The International Conference and Exhibition for Raw Materials (ICERMs) 2024 will take place between April 25 and May 2 at the Conference Room in the Prince Albert Public Library.

There are also plans for a November 2024 conference focusing on Manitoba, and future conferences focusing on the rest of Canada.