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Potash Saskatchewan
2019 SMA GeoVenture Blog
August 17, 2019

Following is the 2019 SMA GeoVenture Blog, August 17 - 22.

Day 1 Orientation and Welcome BBQ, August 17, 2019


Terry Johanson, SMA Education Outreach

GeoVenture 2019 has officially launched! Our first day included our orientation workshop, getting to know each other and our first meal together at the Saskatoon Inn. Our travelling group this year includes 13 teachers, Dillon Johnstone from the Saskatchewan Geological Survey, and the SMA Team – Pam Schwann (president), Brad Sigurdson (vice-president) and Terry Johanson (Education Outreach Coordinator). Our workshop also included Jessica Theriault from Mosaic.

GeoVenture is a cornerstone of the SMA’s Education Outreach programs, which also include lesson plans, workshops, resources and a new teacher Catalyst program. The catalyst program gives GeoVenture alumni the chance to share their new knowledge with other teachers!

Our group learned so much from Dillon about the geological events that formed our province. Saskatchewan is pretty flat today, but our land was formed from huge mountain-building events and erosion. Dillon showed us that the mineral resources we mine were formed millions of years ago – the metals in the north are embedded in rock 1 to 2 billion years ago, while the potash in the south was formed less than a half a billion years ago. Dillon and Pam capped his presentations off by teaching us how to classify rocks using our rock identification kits.

Did you know that you are more likely to have a lost-time safety incident working in health care than if you work in the mining industry? We were surprised to learn that government workers also have a poorer safety rating than mining! Pam, Brad and Jessica Theriault introduced us to the mining industry in Saskatchewan. Some fun facts are that mining is the fourth highest mineral producer in Canada, we produce 32% of the world’s potash and 22% of the world’s Uranium, the mining sector is the #1 industrial employer of indigenous people, and Saskatchewan is the #1 mineral investment attraction in Canada. Most of us had no idea that mining has such a huge impact on our economy. The future of mining in Saskatchewan is strong, despite current commodity prices. Our world’s future population will require more food and more clean energy, which means more potash and more uranium demand. This means that the sector continues to invest in exploration to ensure long-term availability and access to resources.

It is pretty easy to see how we can include information and activities about mining into science classes, but today we were able to see how important mining is to our society as a whole. Infusing discussions and decision-making ideas into social studies is just as important. Our minds are already full of possibilities – we can’t wait to learn more through the week on this grand GeoVenture!


Day 2 Uranium and Potash Presentations, Touring BHP Jansen Discovery Lodge and Potash Interpretive Centre, August 18, 2019

Shana Timoruski (Central Collegiate), Leslie Gardypie (Constable Robin Cameron School) and Christine Matus (Ituna School)                                                                                                                         

We started the day learning about solution mining in Saskatchewan. Our potash samples, that we had previously started to dissolve the night before, had supersaturated the water. We needed to filter off the impurities (clay, iron oxide, and other excess undiscovered matter) to gain a purer product. After filtering, we took a sample of water and recrystallized the potash, using an ice-water bath. Potash crystallizes as a lower temperature than sodium chloride, so we could extract the potash in crystal form. This is similar to how they extract potassium chloride in solution mines. They collect the solution into tailing ponds and as the temperatures drop in they are able to scoop the crystallized potassium chloride off the bottom of the pond and recycle the water for future solutions. For further enrichment in a class (Chemistry 30 and Physical Science 20) it could be possible to test the crystallized potash to confirm it is potassium and not sodium through a flame test.

We then learned about uranium and uranium mining from NexGen. Troy Boisjoli (Vice President, operations and project development) and James Hatley explained how Uranium is discovered in Saskatchewan and the financial and scientific effort it takes for Uranium exploration. He also focused on the impact NexGen is having in Saskatchewan and how all of the funding being put into Saskatchewan is completely sourced out of Province. NexGen is also working with the Dene community very closely, forming strong relationships with its members. NexGen has a strong program that lets 20 young people working in all of the different facets of mining so they can experience many different careers. From this group of individuals, they award bursaries for schooling and have sent many kids to university. They have also given much back to the community by providing jobs and providing a breakfast program to the school. Uranium mining and exploration have excellent curriculum connections to waves (EM radiation and gravity) and chemical equilibrium(redox reactions).

Wrapping up our initial learning time in Saskatoon, we set out for BHP Jansen Discovery Lodge and started our adventure. Maury Simoneau led us on a tour of the state-of-the-art Discovery Lodge and WOW. It was massive. It had a gym, a theatre, and you could order almost anything that you wanted to eat! So amazing. BHP has invested 250 million dollars into this site without a cent of potash being taken from the ground. The site can hold 2500 people when moving into stage one of setting up the potash mine. They pride themselves on their accommodations and forward thinking in the company.

A long bus ride took us to Esterhazy’s potash interpretive centre next. John and Richard lead us through this museum in great detail. It was very interesting and really helped us learn about potash before we could take our mine tour in Rocanville. We finished off the day with an amazing Ukrainian supper of sausage, perogies and cabbage rolls and called it a night at the Canalta in Esterhazy.


Day 3 Underground Tour of Nutrien Scissors Lake and Coal Presentation, August 19, 2019

Cindy Yanko (Ituna School) and Jaimie Mack (Churchill High School)

We had a great sleep and a bright and early breakfast at the Canalta Hotel in Esterhazy before hitting the road towards Rocanville at 6:45 am. Along the way, Pam showed us the new K3 site near Esterhazy, which has an exceptionally tall and impressive head frame. Once operational, potash from this new facility will be transported by conveyor belt to the K1 or K2 sites to be milled. As we continued our journey, Pam briefed us on the geological features in the area such as the Qu'Appelle Valley, which developed as the ice melted and retreated during the end of the last ice age.

We arrived at the Scissors Creek site at the Nutrien Rocanville mine around 7:45 am and were informed of the history of the mine and welcomed by Calvin, Amanda, and Leland, who would be leading us on our tour underground. Safety in the mines is of utmost importance, so we suited up into our safety gear first thing. We all looked great in our reflective vests, steel toe boots, goggles, hardhats, and gloves. In addition to the safety clothing, we also had earplugs for hearing protection, and each wore an oxygen breathing apparatus around our waist for use in case of emergency.

After getting geared up, it was time to load into the cage to proceed underground. The cage is like a giant elevator that can comfortably carry 40 people down into the mine. The spectacular ride down took about three minutes and brought us a kilometre below the surface. The size of the underground portion of the mine is massive, taking up about the same amount of space as the city of Saskatoon and boasting the title of the largest potash mine in the world! Approximately two kilometres of fresh ground is opened every day and 200 train cars full of potash are removed - amazing!

During our tour, our guides told us that the mine houses twelve miner machines, each worth 15 million dollars. We had a chance to watch the "Leopard" miner in action as it worked on drilling out a new room in the mine. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to gather samples of potash to bring back to our communities and show to our students. We also checked other areas in the mine, such as the shops where equipment is assembled and maintained, and the refuge areas where workers go in case of emergencies or power failures.

After coming back to the surface, we were treated to a delicious lunch on the mine site and had the chance to learn more from our guides and other experts from the mine. One interesting conversation that came up was about the recent 4.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred nearby. Contrary to what was said on T.V., the tremor wasn't felt underground at the mine, and the power outage on site occurred because of an automatic breaker jump.

We are now en route for Willowbunch where we will have a BBQ supper, get an overview on coal mining, and have a good night's sleep before another jam-packed day tomorrow at the Poplar River mine and Castle Butte!

51st Emergency Response Mine Rescue Competition Results
June 2, 2019
SMA Emergency Response Mine Rescue Competition
June 1, 2019

The 51st Annual SMA Emergency Response Mine Rescue Skills Competition was held Saturday, June 1, 2019 at Prairieland Park, Saskatoon.  Click here for the 2019 Competition Guidelines.

Click here for the Competition results.

Saskatchewan Mining Week 2019 Official Launch
May 27, 2019
Saskatchewan Mining Week 2019
May 26, 2019

Saskatchewan Mining Week May 26 - June 1, 2019.  Theme - Mining: Supporting Local and Global Communities

Click here for a schedule of Mining Week events.

Mining Week Presentations included WIM/WiN Saskatchewan Networking Event

11th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum
April 3, 2019

The 11th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum co-hosted by the Saskatchewan Mining Association, the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Trade and Export Development took place April 3 and 4, 2019 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK.

The Forum provided information on current mining operations and projects in Saskatchewan and the related supply chain opportunities for manufacturing companies.

Click here for the Agenda.

Following are presentations from the Forum:

Tom Olson, The Mosaic Company - Next Generation Technology and Innovation

Mike Elliott, BHP - Jansen Project digital strategy

Jeff Wagner and Josh Dodd, Nutrien - Potash Operations, Capital and Procurement

Peter Haugen, The Mosaic Company - Operations/Project Updates

Matthew Wood, Western Potash Corp. - Western Potash Milestone Project

Rhea Brown, SaskPower - SaskPower's Path to 2030

Thomas Papst, K+S Potash Canada - The Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum

Brian Beverage, MNP - Block Chain Technology Overview for Mining Industry

Diane Cameron, Natural Resources Canada - Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Terence Stechysin, Competition Bureau Canada - Bid-Rigging, Collusive Behavour & Compliance

Troy Baril, Miller Thomson - Prompt Payment Workshop

Brian Warbey, Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance - PST Workshop













53rd Annual General Meeting
March 1, 2019

The 53rd Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, March 1, 2019 at the Delta Saskatoon Downtown (formerly Radisson Hotel, Saskatoon).


SMA Mine Safety Summit
February 28, 2019

The SMA Mine Safety Summit - Technical Aspects of Mine Safety will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2019 in conjunction with the SMA AGM on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The format of the Summit utilizes case studies from SMA member companies and includes reviews of incident investigations, equipment/procedure evaluations, and best practice discussions. The case studies are grouped into themes which relate to activities and conditions that have been, or have the potential to have been, associated with serious injury and/or fatality.

SMA Responds to Federal Carbon Pricing Announcement
October 23, 2018
SMA Environmental Forum 2018
October 16, 2018

SMA Environmental Forum 2018 is a professional development opportunity for environmental practitioners in the mining industry, consulting businesses, post-secondary researchers and government. With changing regulations and evolving technology it is important for environmental professionals to keep current, and move forward, in developing and identifying best practices related to environmental sustainability.

Following is the Agenda along with the presentations:

2018 Environmental Forum Agenda

Ayres-Oct 18 B-10:30-1100

Banks_Lamb-Oct 17-A-1530-1600

Bellmore-Oct 18-B-1600-1630

Boisjoli-Oct 18-1100-1130

Borchardt-Oct 17-A-900-930

Brehm_Judd-Henrey-Oct 17-A-1400-1430

Cator-Oct 18-A-1030-1100

Chad-Oct 18-A-1530-1600

Chambers-Oct 17-A-1030-1130

Drake-Oct 17-B-1600-1630


Fernandes_Lucas-Oct 18-A-1400-1430

Ferris_Ferguson-Oct 18-A-1430-1500

Freistadt-Oct 18-B-0800-0830

Han-Oct 18-B-1530-1600

Hecker-Oct 17-A-1100-1130

Heffner_Skinner-Oct 17 -B-0830-0930

Hinz_Fullarton-Oct 17-A-1130-1200

Jean-Oct 17 B-1500-1530

Jeerakathil-Keynote-Oct 17-1200-1230

Kambeitz-Oct 17-B-1100-1130

Kempenaar-Oct 18-A-0830-0900

Kenke-Oct 17-B-1130-1200

Ketilson-Oct 18-B-1130-1200

Larsen-Oct 18-A-1600-1630

LePoudre-Oct 18-B-0900-0930

McCullum-Oct 17-A-0830-0900

McLoughlin-Oct 17-B-1030-1100

Nikl-Oct 18-B-0930-1000

Page_MacBride-Oct 17-B-0930-1000

Pedler and Meadows 2018 SMA paper_FINAL

Pedler_Meadows-Oct 17-A-1330-1400



Povalyaev-Oct 17-B-0900-0930

Proulx-Oct 18-A-1330-1400

Riess-Oct 17-A-1600-1630

Rykaart-Oct 18-A-0900-0930

Schabert-Oct 17-A-1500-1530

Searcy_Benson Oct 17-0930-1000

Tallon-Oct 18-A-1100-1130

Traylor-Oct 17-B-1330-1400

Webster-Oct 18-B-1330-1400

Wittrup-Oct 18-A-0800-0830

Wittrup-Oct 18-B-1400-1430

Yates-Oct 18-A-1130-1200

Zwarich_Message-Oct 17-B-1400-1430





SMA Supports Next Step in SK Prairie Resilience Strategy
August 29, 2018
2018 SMA GeoVenture Blog
August 19, 2018

Following is the 2018 SMA GeoVenture Blog August 19 - 24
Day 1 Orientation and Welcome BBQ, August 19, 2018

GeoVenture 2018 kicked off with an Orientation Workshop which included Introductions; Itinerary review; Curriculum Link Outline; Introduction to Rocks and Minerals; Overview of Saskatchewan Mining Industry; distribution of curriculum-related material.

The day finished off with a Drill and Grill dinner at Saskatoon Inn attended by SMA Board members.


Day 2 Potash - Solution (Mosaic Belle Plaine and Potash Interpretive Centre), August 20, 2018
By John Nicholson, St. Joseph High School, Saskatoon and Majak Mapiour, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

We had a nice breakfast at the Saskatoon Inn and boarded the bus for the Mosaic potash mine at Belle Plaine. This mine is the largest solution mine in the world and produces more potash per year than the United States. It also generates its own electricity and consumes as much natural gas per year as the city of Moose Jaw. The 64 km2 mine site has about 1900 km of underground pipes that pump hot water down 1500 m to dissolve the potash. Belle Plaine mine consumes 19 000 L per minute (24/7) and all is kept on site.

What is potash?
Potash is the name given to potassium compounds and potassium containing materials, the most common of which is KCl. The name comes from the middle Dutch potaschen which means pot ash, referring to its original production of soaking wood ash in pots. The name of the element potassium comes from potash. Potash ore is a mixture of KCl, NaCl, Fe2O3, clay and other trace salts.

Potash Mining
There are two ways to mining potash: conventional mining and solution mining. In Mosaic Belle Plaine solution mining is used. Natural gas is burned to turn water to steam. The steam is put through two turbines to generate electricity. 90% of power needed to run the plant is produced on site and the rest is supplied by SaskPower. The steam exits the turbines as hot water, which is then pumped into the cavern to mine KCl. The recovered brine solution from underground is sent to either the refinery or the cooling ponds.

In the refinery, the brine solution is pumped to the evaporators (8 in total), where steam is used to evaporates some of the water causing the NaCl to settle out of the solution. Then the stream is directed to the crystallizers to recover KCl.  Subsequently, the wet KCl is dewatered, dried, sized, compacted, and/or stored. The cooling ponds use natural evaporation to settle out the KCl. Two dredges are used to recover the KCl from the ponds.


Potash Interpretive Centre, Esterhazy, SK
After our drive from Belle Plaine Potash Mine, we arrived in Esterhazy at about 7:00.  We were treated to a wonderful, homemade Ukrainian supper of perogies, cabbage rolls, and Grayson sausage at the Esterhazy Bowl Arena. Socializing and interacting with the others in our group was a very nice touch to the evening as we all sat together at one large, square table, where we were served our supper.

We then walked over to the Potash Interpretive Centre. Outside of the centre there was a tall, 20 foot statue of a miner and an old train car out on the front lawn.  When we entered the centre, we were greeted by our tour guides who were retired employees of the mine.  We learned about the backbone of the Esterhazy economy, which is potash.  

The interpretive centre is a great place to go to learn about the history of the potash industry and how it is important not only to the people of the area, but also all around the world.  The information was displayed through murals, maps of the local mines and the patterns they used for mining, a life-sized diorama of the area being mined, miniature models of the equipment used, and videos.  

We learned about the construction of the mines and how the technology has changed throughout the years. Where once there was a lot more physical labour, many of the mines operations are carried through by computers and automation. Safety measures are also considered more effectively than in the past.

The Potash Interpretive Centre is an excellent place to visit to experience what a working potash mine is like, without actually being able to visit a mine.

Day 3 Potash – Conventional Underground (Mosaic Esterhazy K1 & K2), August 21, 2018
A Mine Called K1

By Melanie Charnetski, Eaton School, Eatonia; Lanna Abbott, Lumsden High School; Violet Dubitz, SMA

Now this is the story all about how,
We learned about mining underground.
We’d like to take a minute,
Just sit right down,
We’ll tell you how we became the queens of a mine called K1.

In Southeast Saskatchewan, born and praised,
In Esterhazy is where spent one full day.
Gearing up, maxin’, descending all cool,
Traversing the tunnels, gettin’ all schooled,
When a couple of guys, who were up to some good,
Took us on a tour of their neighbourhood.
We got in some good sights, and we weren’t even scared,
Brad said, “Take as many potash samples as you dare.”

We whistled for a ride, and when it came near,
We thought to ourselves, “What a career!”
If anything we could say this trip was rare,
And we thought, “Time for the mill, yo holmes, to the stairs!”

We arrived at the mill around 12:08,
And we learned about size and importance of grade.
They showed us their kingdom, our tour was done,
Thank you, best wishes to the mine called K1!


Mosaic Esterhazy K2
Michelle Peters, Thom Collegiate High School, Regina and I (Mick Rissling, Martin Collegiate High School, Regina) decided to express the processes we learned about traditional underground potash mining and potash chemistry from the Esterhazy K2 mine in song form. You may wish to listen to it by itself or as an accompaniment (or epic song battle) to the song done by our colleagues in their K1 mine experience. Enjoy!

Esterhazy Rhapsody (sung more-or-less to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)
Is this the real life?
Is this nerd fantasy?
Down in K2 mine,
3.3 x 103 feet from reality.
Open your eyes,
there are no skies to see.
I am just a poor teacher,
I need some good PD.
Because it’s easy come, easy go,
we’ll again be high but now we’re low.
The one way that the fans blow really, really matters to breathe.
To breathe.

Mosaic, protects a man.
Put a hard hat on his head,
Safety trained so he’s not dead.
Mosaic, K3 just begun,
To no longer have to throw water all away
Mosaic, oooooh
Still need to make it dry.
If I’m not up the shaft this time tomorrow
Come on down, come on down, I’ll be in the refuge.

Clocked in, time to descend
My ears poppin’ all the time.
Steel-toe boots caked with brine.
Good-bye everybody, I’ve got to go
Gotta leave surface behind and face the face.
Mama, ooo (there is no way the wind blows)
The pressure is real high,
I sometimes wish I’d never come down at all.

We see high-grade potash in the rock,
Dig it out, send it up, will you do the miners’ tango?
Blades spin as fast as lightning, with PPE it’s not frightening
Esterhazy, Esterhazy,
Esterhazy, Esterhazy,
Esterhazy Mosaic Co. Mosaic Co.!

It’s just a mixture, gotta separate it
it’s just a mixture, from the Elk Point Sea.
crystalline compounds, evaporation processes.
K-C-L , K-2-O, just let it go.
so-di-um - electrons let it go - let it go!
so-di-um - electrons let it go - let it go!
so-di-um - electrons let it go - let it go!
We will not let you go (never)
Never let you go let me go
Never let me go ooo
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
O chemistry-a differential density-a help-a-me-a let it go!
Flotation has aeration and ions for me.
For me
For me

So you think you can split me and sell me by size?
So you think you can dissolve me and leave me to dry?
Oh baby, I just need to be compacted, baby.
Just gotta get sold, just gotta get shipped outta here.

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah,
Potash really matters,
Botanists can see,
Potash really matters, to plant chemistry.

All the ways the food grows.


Day 4 Coal  - Westmoreland Coal Poplar River Mine and Castle Butte, August 22, 2018

The sleepy group of 2018 GeoVenture participants awoke to a beautiful crisp yet sunny day in the lovely community of Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan.  After a brief meal at the local restaurant we ventured out to ‘meet the giant’ nearby, Mr. Edouard Beaupre.  Standing over 8 feet tall was an impressive statue of his likeness, but nowhere near the size of ‘Great Gus’.

Great Gus is the smaller of two giant draglines that are the backbone of the Westmoreland Poplar River coal mine.  With a boom arm measuring 140 meters and a reach of 110 meters, this behemoth moves earth like a champ.  If this were parked at one end of Mosaic stadium it could reach the goal post at the other end! It has the power to dig a typical basement in two swipes of its giant bucket, with each swipe carrying 70 cubic meters.


Upon arriving at the Westmoreland facility, we signed in and were given a very thorough orientation and safety talk, complete with a professionally produced animated video.  We all donned our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and off we went to board the bus.  The first stop was to see the coal seam and get out to walk in the pit.  We were treated to seeing the water truck go by and water the coal in an effort to keep the dust down.  We were also given bags to collect our very own coal samples, and had a group picture taken in front of the coal.


The seam of coal is typically about 4 meters deep, and is covered by about 30 meters of overburden.  It is the job of Great Gus to remove this overburden.  The giant loaders and haul trucks do the rest.  We watched a truck get loaded while we were there, hauling away about 140 tons of coal which is about 5 bucket loads from the loader.  We then followed the truck out of the pit up a ramp that has a maximum grade of 6 percent.  This means that for every 100 meters of travel, the ramp can only rise by 6 meters…but when you are hauling that much weight it is a pretty good feat.  Upon leaving the coal pit, the trucks travel approximately 5-10 minutes to the hopper where they unload all that coal so it can be loaded into the train for delivery to the power plant.

At the loading station, trains come to the plant to be loaded with coal destined for the power plant.  After the coal is hauled from the pit to the hopper, the truck unloads the coal and it is crushed to a more uniform size around 6 inches.  Then it is loaded onto a series of train cars (21 in total), and hauled to the Sask Power coal generating power plant.  This plant has two turbines and each one has a capacity of 315 megawatts.  The 630 megawatts of power generated at this plant represents about 20 percent of the total power that the province of Saskatchewan uses.  Two locomotives are owned by the company, and each of the rail cars holds about 90 tons for a combined total of about 2000 tons per train.  That coal is typically used by the power plant in about 3 hours, after its been crushed at the plant into a fine dust so it can be sent to the furnaces for combustion to power the turbines.

Our bus headed out to take us to see the dragline next, appropriately named Great Gus.  Another dragline is the 400 foot dragline, but at the time was undergoing an 18 million dollar service and was not operational, but it is the largest dragline operated in Saskatchewan.  The main purpose of the draglines are to remove the approximately 30 meters of overburden, and access the coal seam, but the dragline doesn’t actually dig the coal.  We all had an opportunity to see the spare 100 ton dragline bucket, and had another group picture done in front of this giant ‘shovel’.

We were able to see the dragline from two angles, and after leaving the second pit we headed to the main facility again to tour the maintenance shop.  Maintenance is one of the largest expenses for the company (after wages) and preventative maintenance is performed on all the equipment regularly.  All equipment is washed before it is worked on, and the mechanics are generally all journeymen heavy duty mechanics.  The last part of our tour consisted of a lunch with many of the company leaders and it gave us an opportunity to ask many great questions. The knowledgeable staff made the tour not only safe and informative, but also exciting.  We learned about their drone technology for mapping the site, the GPS technology that the operators use, and some more history of the company, both at this mine and others that they operate.

One thing that was stressed throughout our entire tour was the importance of site remediation and reclamation.  Westmoreland works consistently with local land owners and government to ensure all regulations are being met.  They reclaim all land to a state very similar to what it was prior to the mining, and most of it is returned to farmland and eventually sold to local farmers once the coal has been removed.  The entire operation was impressive to see, very educational, and certainly gives us educators who were on the tour a lot to talk to our students about.

Castle Butte
By Debbie Peterson, Kyle Composite School and Lee Jacobson, North Park Wilson School, Saskatoon

Coming across the flat prairie from the southern part of Saskatchewan, we followed the long road into a wide open valley formed by glacier melt water channels. It was flat except for a tall castle which appeared before our eyes. It was in the middle of nowhere and rose up tall, dry, orange, brown, and beige with sage, dust, and some grass around it. It was full of horizontal and vertical lines covering the whole surface. Upon further examination, there were some caves around the base. Why was it here? What made the lines crossing the surface of the castle? We needed to interpret the geology of this formation.

Our guides Svieda and Pam were a wealth of information sharing that the Castle was indeed formed during the Upper Cretaceous period where the land was mostly covered by rivers, streams and swamps. Sediments deposited at the bottom of the water 75-55 million years ago created the sedimentary rock. As the surrounding rocks were eroded away, a butte was left behind (a butte is a flat-topped hill of soft rock with a hard-protective rock on top). The soft rock does not erode due to the hard-top surface. In the sedimentary rock, there is sandstone and traces of iron. The iron shows up in horizontal bands that create protruding ledges as the sandstone erodes. The vertical lines covering the butte are a result of water and weather eroding the sandstone. 

Some of our group walked around the circumference, some explored the caves, and others climbed the top to enjoy the beautiful vista. There was an opportunity to express our artistic talents on paper showing our impressions of the wonderful Castle Butte.


Day 5 Uranium - Cameco Cigar Lake and Orano Canada McClean Lake Mill, August 23, 2018

Cameco Cigar Lake Mine
By Karen Kennedy-Allin, Weyburn Comprehensive and Shelly Stamm, Central Collegiate, Moose Jaw

We started the day by meeting down in the lobby of the Saskatoon Inn at 5:45 am.  Even though it was so early, we were all on time!  We divided ourselves into cars and Pam lead us in a convoy to Westwind Airlines.  We checked in and waited our turn to board.  Breakfast was waiting for us on the planes.

The flight was beautiful, although it was a bit smokey to start with due to the fires in BC.


Pam gave us a lesson about the Athabasca basin while we were on our way.  Click here  and here to see geological maps of Saskatchewan and the Athabasca Basin similar to what Pam was showing us. 

We arrived at our northern destination about an hour and a half later.  It was interesting to note that the runway was a dirt runway, but it was a smooth landing nonetheless.  At that point, we were welcomed by a friendly employee of Cigar Lake Mine.

A school bus was waiting to take us to the mine site.  The views were spectacular!  We had seen many of the lakes from the airplane, but it was even better up close.  We noticed that the trees were not quite as tall as trees further south.  This is likely due to the colder climate and soil conditions compared to further south.

Our orientation was led by the manager of the site, Jeremy Breker. During the presentation he emphasized safety above all.   

Cigar Lake has a unique resource.  It has the highest grade uranium mine in the world.

Jeremy gave us an overview of what we would be seeing and we were on our way to put on or PPE.  We had booties, steel toed rubber boots, a white Tyvex jumpsuit, helmet and safety glasses.

All of our tours have involved two people from the mine to lead our groups.  One person describes what we are seeing and the other person follows behind answering questions and makes sure no one gets left behind.   

We were taken to the elevator shaft which was also referred to as “the cage”.  The ride down was exciting and quite smooth.  Our tour guides took us to several places including a refuge station that also serves as a lunch room.  Workers must clean their boots before entering and remove their safety helmets, gloves and wash their hands before entering the eating area.  

The ore is mined from underneath the ore body using high pressure water jets.  This was developed by Cameco and is referred to as the jet boring system or JBS.  More detailed information on this method can be found here. We got to see exactly where this occurs while we were touring underground.  We also got to see the area where the engine for the jets of water are kept.  They use 15000 psi to retrieve the ore.

Once the ore is removed from the ore body it goes to a slurry tank – which we also got to see.  From there it is ground up more to make it easier to move to the surface. Once we returned to the surface, we were taken to the building that the trucks enter to load the slurry that is then moved by truck to McClean Lake for milling.

Our tour guides answered all of our questions and were very patient when they had to re-explain some of the processes more than once. After the tour we loaded up the bus and headed to McClean Lake to see the milling process.

Orano McClean Lake Mill
by: Michelle Wall, Scott Collegiate, Regina and Carolyn Bowler, Sask Polytech, Moose Jaw

After waking up bright and early, the group split up to get on our planes for the ride to Cigar Lake. The tour of the uranium mine was fantastic as you just read above.

A delicious lunch was provided, and then we were on our way to the Orano Processing Facility located at McCLean Lake.
Our bus driver took us through some beautiful countryside full of lakes and black spruce/jack pine forest.
We arrived at the plant, and had coffee and the best fruit tray and snacks while the entertaining Monsieur Vincent Laniece (Gen. Mgr.) gave us an overview of the facility in his charming French accent.
Having a Frenchman in charge ensured that we were dressed to the nines in the latest safety fashions. Red coats, baby blue hats and purple gloves rounded out our ensembles.
Then we were off to the JEB Tailings Management Facility, an impressive 120m hole in the ground that used to be a mine from 1994-1997. Now, the wastes from the plant flow into the pond and settle on the bottom to consolidate into a big plug. Pumps draw water from the bottom to be recycled into the plant. The TMF was designed to ensure that all water flows into the pond from the surrounding area, and around the tailings. The inviting turquoise water is currently at an elevation of 436m. They were in the process of adding a liner made of bentonite clay to the upper portion of the pond to ensure that water flow continues to flow into the pond and not into the environment as the pond rises to its maximum capacity elevation of 450m which will be enough to hold all anticipated tailings from Cigar Lake. The liner also helps to prevent plants from gaining a foothold, which further prevents any wildlife from settling on the pond. With plenty of surrounding lakes to choose from, stray birds have never been a real issue.
 We headed back to the plant to learn how the plant deals with the 14-16 truckloads of uranium sent from the Cigar Lake mine each day. An impressive safety record and the array of devices for monitoring alpha, beta and gamma radiation made for a relaxing entry into the plant.
First stop - unloading the trucks. The 12% uranium slurry is vacuum suctioned out of the bottom of each truck container and sent to the pachucas for storage. This area had the highest levels of radiation in the whole plant, so were weren't allowed to enter.


From the pachucas, we went to the leaching area where acid is used to extract uranium, and a variety of other metals, from the slurry. There is a lot of monitoring of the waste stream at this point because elements like selenium (which is toxic to fish at levels measured in parts per BILLION) can be present. As fishing is the main recreation of a lot of the workers here, they make sure that nothing will harm their pastime!
We also learned that a large amount of hydrogen gas can be released from the clay at this step, and the plant had to overhaul their equipment to make sure H levels stayed below the explosive range. Several backup systems make sure the levels stay low, even during the heat of summer.

Day 6 Diamond presentation & SRC Lab Tour, August 24, 2018
by: Renee Mahajan

Check out Renee's blog on the diamond presentations https://mixcord.co/acapella/p/EmN4Fvc34Bqn7omJwJR_Ig/

50th Emergency Response Mine Rescue Competition Results
June 5, 2018
50th Annual Emergency Response Mine Rescue Skills Competition
June 2, 2018

The 50th Annual Emergency Response Mine Rescue Skills Competition took place on Saturday, June 2, 2018 in Moose Jaw at Mosaic Place and Moose Jaw Exhibition.  Here are the results.

The Competition Guidelines can be found here. Click here for the Mine Rescue Manual.

The SMA ERMRC Newletter The Scoop can be found here


Saskatchewan Mining Week 2018
May 28, 2018


Monday, May 28, 2018

Mining: Sustaining Success

Regina: The Honourable Bronwyn Eyre, Minister of Energy & Resources along with Jessica Theriault, Chair of the Saskatchewan Mining Association launched ‘Mining Week in Saskatchewan’ today at the Saskatchewan Legislature. Mining Week in Saskatchewan runs from May 27 – June 2, 2018.

Saskatchewan is a global mining leader. While low commodity prices have continued to make for challenging operating environment, we are reminded that Saskatchewan is a good place to be operating mines. “Saskatchewan provides a low-risk environment because of both the great geological framework, and also the considered regulatory and policy frameworks. SMA member companies have made multibillion dollar investments in Saskatchewan over the past decade. And because of these investments, mining remains a key pillar of Saskatchewan’s economy.” said Jessica Theriault, Chair of Saskatchewan Mining Association.

As Canada transitions to a lower carbon economy, Saskatchewan products are among the most responsibly mined in the world. “Saskatchewan mining operations feed and fuel the world with their products, improving the quality of life around the world and at home. The world needs more Saskatchewan mineral products and we will continue to work with governments to develop a framework for sustained success in a globally competitive marketplace”, said Pam Schwann, SMA President.

During Mining Week, the Saskatchewan Mining Association will have dozens of events in communities across the province, culminating with the 50th Annual Emergency Response/Mine Rescue Skills Competition, Saturday, June 2nd at Mosaic Place and Moose Jaw Exhibition Grounds in Moose Jaw.


For further information contact:

Tracey Irwin, SMA Manager, Communications and Membership, (306) 591-7050

News Release:  Saskatchewan Mining Week 2018, Mining: Sustaining Success

Saskatchewan Mining Week 2018
May 27, 2018

Saskatchewan Mining Week May 27 - June 2, 2018. 

Following is a list of Mining Week activities.

Monday, May 28 – Pierre Gratton, President & CEO, Mining Association of Canada will make a luncheon presentation to the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce to be held at the Hotel Saskatchewan Radisson Plaza in Regina. https://www.apegs.ca/Portal/Pages/event-details-7/33477

Tuesday, May 29 – Pam Schwann, President, Saskatchewan Mining Association will make a luncheon presentation to members of the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce at the Bella Vista in Humboldt. https://www.humboldtchamber.ca/events/details/mining-week-in-saskatchewan-2073

Wednesday, May 30 - Kyle Leadbeater, Superintendent, Dry End Production, K+S Potash Canada will make a breakfast presentation to the Moose Jaw and District Chamber of Commerce at Grant Hall Hotel, Moose Jaw. https://www.mjchamber.com/home

Wednesday, May 30 – Women in Mining/ Women in Nuclear Networking Event with keynote speaker the Honourable Bronwyn Eyre, Minister of Energy & Resources to be held at the Saskatoon Club, Saskatoon. http://wimwinsk.com/event/2018-wimwin-sk-mining-week-networking-event/

Wednesday, May 30 and Thursday, May 31 – ‘Core Days’ in partnership with Keewatin Community Development Association, Northlands College and the Ministry of Energy & Resources. Events include: Technical Discussions, Core and Rock Sample Displays, Long Term Service Awards, Mineral Exploration & Mine Service Tradeshow, La Ronge. http://www.kcdc.ca/coredays/

Thursday, May 31 – Larry Long, Vice President Operations, Potash, Nutrien will make a breakfast presentation to the North Saskatoon Business Association to be held at the Saskatoon Club in Saskatoon. http://nsbasask.com/event/nsba-mining-week-breakfast-may31-18/

Thursday, May 31 – IMII’s 5th Annual “Let’s Talk Minerals!” to be held at the Saskatoon Inn & Conference Centre, Saskatoon. http://www.imii.ca/events/events-details/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=208&cHash=8208d01a9013b9e560a50c3419b8d7a6

Friday, June 1 – The Honourable Bronwyn Eyre, Minister of Energy & Resources will make a breakfast presentation to the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce to be held at the Radisson Hotel, Saskatoon. http://members.saskatoonchamber.com/events/details/saskatchewan-mining-week-breakfast-4100

Saturday, June 2 – 50th Annual Emergency Response/Mine Rescue Skills Competition at Mosaic Place and Moose Jaw Exhibition Park, Moose Jaw.

For more information on Saskatchewan Mining Week contact the SMA office (306) 757-9505; admin@saskmining.ca


Amendments to CTA Fails to Address Canadian Mining Industry
April 30, 2018
SMA echoes the profound disappointment and frustration voiced by the Mining Association of Canada with respect to the Government of Canada's legislation amending The Canada Transportation Act (Bill C-49).  Click here for the media release.
SMA supports province's request to the Sask Court of Appeal on carbon tax legislation
April 25, 2018
Saskatchewan Mining Association supports province's request to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal seeking clarification on constitutionality of federal government's carbon tax legislation.  Click here for the media release. 
Train the Trainer Program
April 11, 2018

TEAM Response and St. John Ambulance will be offering the Train the Trainer Program again this year. The objective of the Train the Trainer program is to better prepare those that are tasked with training a team for competition or participating as a team member.

Pre-requisite for Train the Trainer

  • Minimum of a OHS A certification
  • Physically fit


Agenda for Train the Trainer

  • Review of changes for 2018
  • Judges Marking Sheets
  • Patient Assessments
  • Certification/Recertification in oxygen administration/Automated External Defibrillation
  • Spinal Immobilization which will include the Kendrick Extrication Device (KED) and the Scoop stretcher
  • Helmet Removal
  • Triage
  • Evaluating a team


Proposed training date:

April 11th, 2018 at Mosaic Place, 175, 119 River St W, Moose Jaw, SK. The course will run from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Lunch will be provided. Anyone with diet restrictions please notify us in advance. Participants can register by email to teamresponse@outlook.com or Michael.Brenholen@sk.sja.ca The cost of the course is $225.00 per person.


Registrations for the Train the Trainer course will be accepted until April 5th, 2018 to allow for course loading.

10th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum
April 10, 2018

The 10th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum will be held April 10 and 11, 2018 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK.

This Forum provides information on how manufacturers, construction, equipment and service providers can access mining supply opportunities.

Forum topics have historically included (yet to be finalized for this year):

  • An overview of projects by Saskatchewan mining companies
  • Information on opportunities to supply equipment and services to the mining industry
  • The process and steps to become a supplier to the mining industry
  • Separate sessions on topics such as maintenance, repair and operations for mine site personnel

For more information and to purchase tickets for the10th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum please use the following link: https://saskmining.wixsite.com/miningsupplyforum

NOTE:  Saskatchewan Mining Association members to contact the SMA office for registration to the event.

52nd Annual General Meeting
March 2, 2018

Saskatchewan Mining Association's 52nd Annual General Meeting was held on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the Radisson Hotel Saskatoon. 

Download the 2017 Annual Report

2018 Mine Safety Summit
March 1, 2018

The 3rd Mine Safety Summit - Technical Aspects of Mine Safety was held on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in conjunction with the SMA AGM on Friday, March 2, 2018.

The format of the Summit utilized case studies from SMA member companies and included reviews of incident investigations, equipment/procedure evaluations, and best practice discussions. Member companies presented for approximately 20 minutes/presentation. The case studies were grouped into themes which relate to activities and conditions that have been, or have the potential to have been, associated with serious injury and/or fatality.

Following are the presentations:

Jason Belanger, Nutrien

Mary Lo, Orano Canada

Kirk Lamont, Cameco

Dave Lowe, K+S Potash Canada

Ben Stevenson & Robin Butler, BHP

Brent Bachtold, Mosaic

Ruo Xi Liu, Cameco

Garry Sawkey, K+S Potash Canada

Kathy Sovdi, Westmoreland Coal Company

Marc Carignan, Nutrien

Chad Binsfeld, K+S Potash Canada

Dustin Orosz, Mosaic




6th Native Prairie Restoration/Reclamation Workshop
February 7, 2018
6th Native Prairie Restoration/Reclamation Workshop

February 7-8, 2018

Plenary Sessions, Break-out Sessions, Case Studies, Trade Show, Poster Session and More!

Topics include: Species at Risk, Climate Change, Mining Restoration/Reclamation, Wetland Restoration, Soil and Phyto Remediation, Grazing and Prescribed Burning and partnerships!

At the Saskatoon Inn, in Saskatoon, SK

More information: 306-352-0472, pcap@sasktel.net or www.pcap-sk.org  /ckfinder/userfiles/files/NPRRW18 Advertising Poster.pdf

SMA Supports Government of SK Climate Change Strategy
December 4, 2017
The Saskatchewan Mining Association is supportive of the Government of Saskatchewan's Climate Change Strategy.  Click here for the news release.
GMSG Edmonton Forum 2017
October 11, 2017

Global Mining Collaboration Lands in Edmonton this October

An interactive forum dedicated to presentations and discussions around Interoperability, Autonomous Mining, and much more, is taking place October 18-19 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Hear from speakers involved in the latest mining industry guideline work on autonomy, data sharing, and cyber security, as well as case studies on success stories outside the industry. You won’t want to miss the spotlight on GMSG’s Underground Mining projects around Battery Electric Vehicles and Short Interval and Real-Time Control.

GMSG forums offer a chance for participants to discover opportunities for their companies to grow and innovate. See the attached agenda for further details./ckfinder/userfiles/files/GMSG_17_EdmontonForum_Agenda.pdf

2017 SMA GeoVenture
August 21, 2017

Following is a blog on the 2017 GeoVenture August 14 - 19, 2017

Day 1 Monday August 14th, 2017 - Orientation