[Potash Mineral] Products ‘feed and fuel the world’ (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – May 22, 2015)

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Pamela Schwann, executive director of the Saskatchewan Mining Association, answered a few questions from Paul Sinkewicz during the seventh annual Mining Supply Chain Forum held April 14 and 15 in Saskatoon

Q How important is mining to Saskatchewan’s economy?

A Mining is one of Saskatchewan’s key economic engines of growth, directly contributing approximately seven per cent of our GDP. When you also include the related service sector industry that supplies to the mining sector, that number adds up into the double digits.

Q What role does mining play in the lives of Saskatchewan residents?

A On the surface, this is what you see: There are over 25 different mining operations in Saskatchewan spread out across the province from the coal mines along the U.S. border to the potash deposits that stretch across the south central part of the province to the uranium and gold mines in the northern part of Saskatchewan.

And that is just rural and northern Saskatchewan, we also have corporate offices of some global mining players like PotashCorp, Cameco, Mosaic, Areva and BHP Billiton in Saskatoon and Regina. So there are direct employment and business services tied to all those mine sites and corporate offices.

What you don’t see, and maybe many don’t attribute as a benefit of mining, are the services provided by government that are funded by royalties, corporate taxes and personal income taxes from those employed by the industry – services like health care, education, infrastructure development. Without mining, those dollars don’t flow to government and those services that enhance everyone’s quality of life would be significantly reduced.

Q How many people are employed by the mining industry and what types of jobs are available? A There are more than 30,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the mining industry. Jobs are highly varied – there are over 120 different career options with varying levels of technical expertise. As a sample: engineering, electricians, IT specialists, labourers, heavy equipment operators, safety and environment techs, instrumentation techs, human resources specialists, marketing, and financial analysts.

Q What types of minerals are extracted in Saskatchewan? How are the minerals used and how important are they?

A Saskatchewan produces a diversity of minerals, but the key ones are potash, uranium and coal.

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