Minister responsible for Energy and Resources – by Tony Playter (Regina Leader-Post – May 25, 2013)

For L-P Specialty

Q & A with Tim McMillan

According to the Saskatchewan Mining Association website, Saskatchewan has more than 25 operating mines that produce minerals such as potash, uranium, coal and gold as well as mineral resources including diamonds, copper and zinc.

To ensure continued success in the mining sector and the province’s overall economic growth, the Ministry of the Economy has taken several steps to encourage investment and development in Saskatchewan. Tim McMillan, Minister responsible for Energy and Resources, discussed the future of mining in Saskatchewan.

Q: Since 2007, how has the provincial government encouraged investment in Saskatchewan’s mining sector?

I believe it is important to tell the Saskatchewan story in an accurate and positive light. For too long, Saskatchewan politicians talked about what we couldn’t do, what we didn’t have and how we would never grow or prosper like some of our neighbours.

The change in paradigm has been a very important part of our success. We have been very open and made some key structural changes that have created a stable royalty system that will drive long-term investments and benefits for our province.

When we became the government in 2007, we had to change taxation on potash. The old system did not account for the possibility of new entrants and new developments to potash. It only considered existing mines and how they might grow.

We had to modernize and update our regulations to meet today’s market. It was a success, as last year K+S, a German company, broke ground on our first new mine in over 40 years.

As a government, we recognize the value of investment and what we need to do to encourage it. As we prepared this year’s budget, we saw that our uranium royalty system was inhibiting growth in the industry.

The system we were using was based on cost assumptions and they become inaccurate over time. The assumptions were no longer reflective of current costs.

So in this year’s budget, we modernized the system and based it on actual costs and making Saskatchewan a place where we can once again expect to see substantial investments in the uranium industry.

Without the changes, it was highly unlikely that any company would be willing to develop a mine in the province.

The willingness to recognize when there are flaws in the system, and to fix them, is something we have done and need to continue to do.

Also, another positive step that encourages investment and ensures that Saskatchewan is at the forefront of mining jurisdiction is the introduction of the Mineral Administration Registry Saskatchewan (MARS) system.

MARS is used for issuing mineral claims online and has significantly reduced processing times for mineral claim staking. Mineral claims are now being confirmed within five business days. With the old system, it could take up to two months.

The MARS online system will save companies millions of dollars in staking costs, which allows them to invest the funds in further exploration. The ease of acquiring claims is also crucial and can become especially helpful when new information on an area becomes available.

This new system keeps Saskatchewan competitive and it plays a significant role in ensuring the long-term, sustainable growth of our mining sector.

Q: What tactics for encouraging investors and investments do you feel have been most successful?

We have a very diverse resource base in our province with base metals, uranium and potash. The great landmass of Saskatchewan is so mineral rich in relation to other places around the world. That is our biggest asset.

Beyond that, we are very proactive and reach out to the mining industry through large trade shows held around the world. We have a significant presence at each of these shows and we use these opportunities to meet with industry leaders to remind them what Saskatchewan has to offer.

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