Archive | Saskatchewan Mining

Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines – A Canadian Story – Book Review by Jonathan Buchanan (Mineral Exploration Magazine – Summer 2018)

To order a copy of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines – A Canadian Story, click here:

Patricia Sandberg was formerly a partner at DuMoulin Black, a Vancouver law firm acting for mining companies listed on Canadian and international stock exchanges. Her clients had mining operations in Canada, the United States, China, and Latin America. Three generations of her family, including Patricia as a child, lived at Gunnar and her grandfather spent thirty years working at mines run by Gilbert LaBine, Canada’s “Father of Uranium.”

Book Review by Jonathan Buchanan

In the 1950s, the Cold War had a profound effect on Canada’s landscape – from the building of Distant Early Warning stations scattered across Canada’s North to the creation of uranium mining towns on the Canadian Shield. One of these towns, Gunnar, lasted for just over a decade, but its indelible impact on its residents, as Patricia Sandberg writes in Sun Dogs and Yellowcake.

The result is a very rich, often humorous, sometimes tragic and always engaging account of how one community rose to meet the demands of the Atomic Age. As the title suggests, it bridges the natural wonders of the North with those of the industrial world.

Continue Reading →

Massive filing in Cameco case may signal ‘trench warfare’ in Canada’s tax court – by Julius Melnitzer (Financial Post – August 8, 2018)

The 700 pages of concluding arguments filed with the Tax Court of Canada (TCC) in Cameco Corporation’s $2.1 billion transfer pricing dispute with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) marks a new era of complexity for corporate tax litigation in Canada.

“That type of filing is unheard of and may signal the evolution of a kind of trench warfare in the Tax Court,” said a veteran tax litigator who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the lawyer’s connection to the ongoing case.

After 65 days of trial, the parties made their closing arguments in September 2017. Justice John Owen reserved his decision, which, by some accounts, may not be issued until 2019 owing to its legal and factual intricacies and the implications for business. Continue Reading →

Cameco cutbacks are a boon for uranium sector, but bane for company’s outlook – by David Milstead (Globe and Mail – August 2, 2018)

You’re the pre-eminent producer of a key commodity, and the price outlook for your product is so poor that you shut down your best plants indefinitely, putting hundreds of people out of work. And this is good news?

Perhaps so, argue some of the analysts who follow uranium giant Cameco Corp. The company’s announcement last week that it would continue the shutdown of McArthur River, the world’s largest uranium plant, was seen as a bullish signal by some analysts, who raised expectations for uranium prices and for Cameco stock. In the first day’s trading on the news, the company’s shares jumped and pushed within a few cents of their 52-week high of $15.95.

That was the first day, however. In subsequent sessions, the shares have given back all their gains and more, as investor focus has shifted back to the damage to be done to Cameco’s earnings by low uranium prices and lack of production. The stock closed Wednesday at $14.11. Continue Reading →

Nutrien to cut 80 jobs at Vanscoy potash operation, raises earnings forecast – by Ian Bickis (Canadian Press/Financial Post – August 1, 2018)

SASKATOON — Nutrien Ltd. increased its earnings forecast for the year Wednesday after announcing job cuts at its Vanscoy potash operation in Saskatchewan earlier in the day. The fertilizer giant said the job cuts will take place in the fourth quarter this year and include about 30 staff and 50 hourly positions.

The changes are meant to make the Vanscoy operations more efficient as it looks for synergies following the merger of Potash Corp. and Agrium Inc. to form Nutrien at the start of the year, the company said.

Nutrien said in its second-quarter results out Wednesday that it had achieved US$246 million in synergies as of the end of June, up from the US$150 million it said it had achieved as of March. Continue Reading →

Representative says Sask. mining sector not doomed after ‘significant’ Cameco layoffs – by Alex Soloducha (CBC News Saskatchewan – July 31, 2018)

Saskatchewan Mining Association argues problems isolated to uranium market

A representative for Saskatchewan’s mining sector says the industry is alive and well in the province, despite hundreds of layoffs. Pam Schwann, president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association, said last week’s layoffs at Cameco, where 700 workers were permanently laid off are “significant,” but don’t represent the entire industry.

Schwann argues that the issues that led to the indefinite shutdown of the company’s Key Lake and McArthur River uranium mine site are specific to the global uranium market.

“There’s just a surplus of uranium on the market and it’s cheaper for Cameco to purchase and draw down that existing inventory than it is for them to mine a world class deposit at reduced value,” Schwann explained. “The Cigar Lake mine is the highest grade uranium mine in the world, so it’s not like mining is leaving the province. Continue Reading →

Ripple effect of Cameco layoffs – by Adam MacVicar (Global News – July 26, 2018)

Following Cameco‘s announcement that the company is laying off 550 employees at its McArthur River and Key Lake mining operations, other businesses in Saskatchewan are beginning to feel the pinch.

Northern Resource Trucking (NRT) has been in business since 1986, and a large portion of its business is shipping chemicals and supplies to and from Cameco’s uranium operations in northern Saskatchewan.

“Cameco has always been somewhere in the neighbourhood of 80 per cent of our business,” NRT president Dave McIlmoyl said. The company said it was forced to lay off 22 drivers in January when Cameco announced temporary layoffs at the mines. The closures were only supposed to last 10 months, but markets haven’t shown signs of improvement. Continue Reading →

‘Paralysis in the market’: Cameco to layoff staff, indefinitely idle uranium plants in ‘confusing times’ – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – July 27, 2018)

Denis O’Hara, 61, has worked for Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corp. in its Key Lake uranium mill for eight years and had hoped to retire there.

Instead, he learned on Wednesday evening that he and about 500 other unionized workers face an uncertain future. In the face of rockbottom uranium prices, Cameco announced that what had been planned in January as a temporary 10-month shut down of its Key Lake mill and McArthur River mine will go on “indefinitely.”

The shutdown comes at a delicate moment in which the uranium market is being hit by conflicting forces. The long-term global outlook for the industry remains positive with 57 new nuclear reactors planned, including 14 expected to come online this year, Cameco chief executive Tim Gitzel told investors on Thursday. Continue Reading →

Fortune Minerals considers putting Saskatoon-area refinery plans on ice – by David Shield (CBC News Saskatoon – July 18, 2018)

Mining company says businesses are talking about buying ore concentrate straight from proposed mine in N.W.T.

Plans for a controversial refinery project in the RM of Corman Park may be deferred by Fortune Minerals.

For years, the company has been talking about building a mine in the Northwest Territories that could produce ore containing cobalt, gold, bismuth and copper suplhate. The concentrated ore would then be refined at a facility near Langham, Sask., 30 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

However, Fortune has now said those plans might be changing. “We’ve been approached by large mining and refining companies with interest in directly purchasing the concentrate that we’d produce in the Northwest Territories,” said spokesperson Troy Nazarewicz. If that happens, the refinery wouldn’t be immediately needed. Continue Reading →

Why now might be the right time to plant Nutrien in your portfolio – by Jonathan Ratner (Financial Post – July 5, 2018)

A recent rally in potash and nitrogen prices has pushed Nutrien’s shares back up toward the level at which they began trading post-merger

Maybe it has something to do with the name change, but more likely it is the result of a persistently weak market for fertilizer ingredients.

Any way you slice it, Nutrien Ltd. has been buried in the back of many investors’ minds since it was created through the US$36-billion mega-merger of Agrium and PotashCorp of Saskatchewan early this year.

But things could be about to change, thanks to a recent rally in potash and nitrogen prices that has pushed Nutrien’s shares back up toward the level at which they began trading post-merger. Continue Reading →

Nutrien to occupy what will be Saskatchewan’s tallest office building – by Alex Macherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – June 14, 2018)

The world’s largest fertilizer company is set to move into what will become the province’s tallest office building once it’s built on the north edge of Saskatoon’s River Landing.

Nutrien Ltd. on Thursday announced plans to relocate its roughly 300 local employees to the 18-storey steel-and-glass tower, construction of which is set to begin soon.

While the terms of the agreement are confidential, Nutrien President and CEO Chuck Magro described it as a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment for the company. Continue Reading →

All-women mine rescue team hoping to break down barriers – by Alex MacPherson *Saskatoon StarPhoenix – May 14, 2018)

Kari Lentowicz hopes taking what is thought to be the world’s first all-female mine rescue team to a major competition in Russia will help demolish barriers in a male-dominated industry.

The seven-member group, nicknamed Diamonds in the Rough, is currently raising the $84,000 it needs to travel to Ekaterinburg for the 2018 iteration of the biennial International Mines Rescue Competition.

Lentowicz, who spent more than a decade working in Saskatchewan’s mining industry and has spoken previously about her struggles in a sector dominated by men, is serving as the Diamonds’ coach. Continue Reading →

Mosaic Company reported lower sales volumes but higher sales revenue for quarter – by Tom Meersman (Minneapolis Star Tribune – May 7, 2018)

Late spring planting and rail bottlenecks in Canada affected its earnings.

Helped by higher prices for phosphate and potash, net sales for the Mosaic Company rose by about 19 percent during the first quarter of 2018, although adjusted earnings were negatively affected by the late spring planting and other weather-related issues.

The global fertilizer company based in Plymouth said Monday that its net sales during the quarter were $1.9 billion, compared with $1.6 billion last year.

Mosaic CEO Joc O’Rourke said the company expects the positive momentum to continue because of improving market conditions and strong operational performance. In addition, O’Rourke said in a statement: “Our excellent progress on the transformational initiatives at Mosaic Fertilizantes is expected to generate substantial earnings growth in the second half of 2018.” Continue Reading →

‘It’s getting to a point where we have too many of these existential crises’: Saskatchewan government renews call for federal solution to transportation woes – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – April 30, 2018)

Saskatchewan’s energy and resources minister says the federal government should act swiftly to prevent another railway backlog like the one that has plagued the province’s farmers and potash producers this year.

Ottawa should not only pass Bill C-49 — new legislation aimed at improving rail service — but ensure the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline System to B.C. is built, Bronwyn Eyre said Monday in an interview.

“If those two factors were resolved, the railway would be more free and more product could move. It’s getting to a point where we have too many of these existential crises (for) too many sectors,” Eyre said. Continue Reading →

Fertilizer giant Nutrien to temporarily lay off up to 1,300 in Saskatchewan (Canadian Press/Globe and Mail – April 27, 2018)

Fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it will temporarily lay off up to 1,300 workers at two of its potash mines in Saskatchewan. The layoffs are to affect staff at the Vanscoy mine this month and the Allan mine in early May.

Will Tigley, a company spokesman, says some essential staff would remain at both facilities. According to Nutrien, the layoff is directly related to rail transportation backlogs, the possibility of a Canadian Pacific Railway strike and growing inventory.

The company says layoffs aren’t unusual and they could last for days or weeks. Premier Scott Moe called on the federal government to put pressure on the railways to improve service. Continue Reading →

Brazilian shuffle: Canpotex opens Sao Paulo office as Vale exits fertilizer industry – by Andrew Willis (Globe and Mail – April 23, 2018)

As Brazil’s largest mining company exits the fertilizer industry, Canada’s leading potash exporter is ramping up its operations in South America’s largest agricultural market.

Canpotex Ltd., the Saskatoon-based company that sells potash from 10 Saskatchewan mines to farmers around the world, is expected to announce the opening of its first office in Brazil on Monday.

In an interview, Canpotex chief executive Ken Steitz said expanding its sales effort in Brazil is part of a $1-billion investment to better position the Canadian company as a dominant fertilizer supplier to a country that’s expected to lead the world in food production over the next three decades. Continue Reading →