Potash Corporation Courts Sudbury Mining Businesses – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of Mining.com permission to post Bill Bradley’s article. www.northernlife.ca

There is a lot of money to be made in potash. India, Brazil and China, which are expanding their agricultural production to feed their growing populations, do not have what Canada is blessed with in abundance, said Potash Corporation officials Wednesday at the Howard Johnson Hotel.

The $64 billion Saskatchewan company mining the fertilizer, sought out by the world’s farmers, was in the city courting the local mining supply and services cluster of companies (SAMSSA) for their expertise. Production for the company is rising from 10 million tonnes this year to 18 million tonnes in 2012.

“We are here because of the high quality of mining expertise that is in this city,” said Ralph Sanders, manager, corporate procurement, PotashCorp.

The company, which topped the Toronto Stock Exchange recently, is embarking on a $6.4 billion expansion of their mines, processing facilities and other infrastructure in Saskatchewan and now New Brunswick.

Dick DeStefano, organizer of the event for 85 registered SAMSSA members from 55 companies present, said he set up the session six months ago.

“I contacted them because they are an alternative market for supplies and services from our companies in Sudbury, North Bay and Timmins.
“It is all about jobs – long-term jobs for this community and contracts for our businesses,” said DeStefano, executive director of SAMSSA.
Companies participating were fabricators, software companies, equipment re-builders, and new equipment dealers, he said.

Clark Bailey, vice-president, technical services for Potash Corp said the world is beating a path to his companies’ door and they need more help to meet the demand.

He outlined a number of new projects where design, engineering and construction services were needed to build mills, mine shafts, office complexes, storage facilities, as well as pipelines, tailings management, conveyor belts, skips, down to reagents and employee dry areas.
“Recently we have begun to have problems with the quality from our vendors. Traditionally they are from Saskatchewan, the United States or overseas. But things are coming to us not square, not on specifications. Sometimes the wrong electrical component, like a solenoid, comes to us,” said Bailey.

“This is the right crowd to talk to about vendor issues.”

DeStefano said local companies may be busy now, but they are making contacts in case they can handle the work later or if there is a downturn in the local economy.

“This way our companies can get on the tender lists of PotashCorp. You never know what will happen with nickel or copper prices. Decisions are now being made in head offices outside Canada. I prefer the decisions being made in Canada myself,” he said.

DeStefano is busy organizing more similar sessions for gold mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation in late 2008, as well as zinc and lead producers later on.