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Construction Announcement: Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement

September 14, 2012
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Funding Announcement

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Laurier. [Dr. Laurier Schramm, the MC.] Good morning everyone, it is a pleasure to be here today.

Before I begin I’d like to recognize my fellow platform guests: Jennifer Campeau; Craig Murray; and Laurier Schramm.

The Saskatchewan Research Council is well-known and respected in the mineral sector for its existing work—especially in its Geoanalytical Labs, where it’s been providing high-quality analysis to the exploration and mining industry for 40 years.

In 2011, Saskatchewan’s mineral production was the second highest in Canada, with a value of $9.2 billion. In the same year, more than $290 million was spent on exploration. The industry supports growth in both urban centres and remote communities, and six out of the 40 largest mining companies worldwide are headquartered in Western Canada—including Cameco Corporation and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, in Saskatchewan.

Additionally, the Saskatchewan Mining Association says up to 15,000 new workers will be needed over the next 10 years to replace retiring workers and keep up with industry demand.

Our investment in the SRC’s Mineral Processing Pilot Plant is helping western Canadian businesses maintain their competitive edge. The Pilot Plant will help create more job opportunities at mines and at processing facilities by providing services that encourage development and expansion in the mining industry.

The facility will also help the western Canadian mining industry improve processing methods for developing mineral deposits, including rare earth minerals. These methods will be more efficient and have a reduced impact on the environment. This new facility will be one of a kind in Saskatchewan and one of few in Canada that can process rare earth minerals- that is what I mean when I talk about maintaining a competitive edge.

Allow me to talk for a moment about the rare earth mineral component. These are a group of 17 elements that are important for manufacturing sophisticated technologies such as smartphones, flat screen monitors, MRI machines and aerospace alloys.

There are many companies in Canada exploring for these minerals and investigating how to extract them, but there are no mining operations yet. Several of these Canadian companies support a rare earth processing, extraction and refining facility in Saskatchewan. The same companies also support these pilot plant services offered by SRC. Through this collaborative effort to support the Mineral Processing Pilot Plant, we are helping to strengthen the mineral sector in Saskatchewan.

By supporting research and technology commercialization in the mineral sector, our Government is investing in new ideas and products, and, ultimately, in job creation.

This investment builds on WD’s previous support for SRC’s mining and mineral sector work. Over the past two years, WD has invested in the SRC’s Advanced Microanalysis Centre, or AMC. Our support addressed growing industry demand for testing and analyzing a wider range of mineral samples. In fact, the Mineral Processing Plant will provide a next stage of service after a company uses the AMC, which identifies the type of minerals present, their size, and how the minerals are bound in the ore body. This information enables the mineral processing and metallurgical testing to be designed to be most effective for processing and concentrating the minerals for the client.

Our Government’s top priority is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, which is exactly what WD’s investments in the Mineral Processing Pilot Plant will achieve. As we move forward with the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, we will focus on supporting job creation, families and communities, innovation, education and training.

I look forward to hearing about the future benefits that will be created as a result of this project.

Projects like this are vital to building a stronger West for a stronger Canada.

Thank you. Merci.