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IW Business Bulletin – August 6, 2021

Pasqua First Nation Becomes Majority Shareholder

Pasqua First Nation, through the PFN Group of Companies, has become the major shareholder in Atlas Biotechnologies Inc., an Edmonton-based cannabis company. Atlas, through its partnership with PFN, will also launch an Indigenous wellness brand of cannabis that is combined with traditional Indigenous healing medicines.

The new brand, named Mino-Ahki— ‘Good Earth.’, will launch with a “first-of-its-kind topical cream that combines traditional medicines and remedies with Atlas’ medicinal cannabis extracts and proprietary formulations.”

“An integral focus of Indigenous healing and wellness is through the balance and inter-relationships of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a being,” said Richard Missens, CEO of PFN and newly appointed Board Member of Atlas Biotechnologies Inc. “Our new Mino-Ahki health and wellness line of products is designed to be part of a balanced approach to health. We look forward to working with Atlas to develop these exciting products.”

Mosaic Reports Q2 Earnings

On August 2,  2021, the Mosaic Company announced its Q2 2021 results, reporting a net income of $437 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2021. Stronger pricing offset lower volumes, seeing Q2 revenues up 37 per cent year over year, reaching $2.8 billion. As well, Q2 gross margins were up 193 percent from the prior year period, primarily as a result of year-over-year price increases. The gross margin rate in the quarter was 26.9 percent, up from 12.6 percent in second quarter of 2020 and the highest gross margin rate since the first quarter of 2013. Mosaic generated $1.0 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter, or $718 million after subtracting capital expenditures.

“Mosaic’s results for the second quarter of 2021 highlight the benefits of our transformation efforts in a strong pricing environment,” said Joc O’Rourke, President and CEO. “Underlying agricultural markets remain constructive, and this is driving demand for fertilizer. The second half of 2021 is expected to be one of our strongest periods in more than a decade.”

Royal Helium Receives Permits

Royal Helium Ltd. announced August 5 that the company has received its drilling license for a fourth well at its operation near Climax, Sask. The well (Climax-$) is expected to begin production on August 7, as a production offset well to Climax-3.

“We are pleased to have multiple, high-impact activities underway over the next several weeks and months – getting the Climax Regolith reservoir defined and on production and drilling 6 new wells over 3 separate land blocks in southeastern Saskatchewan where the highest historic helium concentrations have been recorded.  Panther Drilling is mobilizing to site today with a view to spudding the well on Saturday,” said Andrew Davidson, Royal Helium Ltd. president and CEO.

Federal Government Announces new Regional Development Agency

On August 5, the federal government announced plans for PrairiesCan, a new regional development agency for businesses and communities in AlbertaSaskatchewan and Manitoba. PrairiesCan, and its newly announced counterpart for B.C., PacifiCan, will replace Western Economic Diversification Canada. PrairiesCan will also increase its footprint on the prairies, with new offices in Regina, Prince Albert, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Brandon and Thompson, Man. The current Western Economic Diversification Canada offices in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Ottawa will join PrairiesCan.

“Western Canada’s economy is growing and diversifying more each day, requiring a tailored approach that considers its needs and seizes its opportunities. Our government is proud to be investing in the economic future of innovators, businesses, and communities across the Prairies with the creation of PrairiesCan. For more than 30 years, WD has done tremendous work in the West and this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter,”  said Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada.

Statistics Canada Releases Employment Rates

Statistics Canada reported July job numbers, with 94,000 jobs added in July. The July unemployment rate is 7.5 per cent, falling 0.3 per cent. Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate is 7.0 per cent, with employment declining by 0.8 per cent.

BMO Sees Some Bright Spots

According to the recently released Bank of Montreal Banking on Main Street report released on Thursday, Saskatchewan should see a boost in growth due to improved pricing in energy, with growth rates anticipated in the 4.5 – 5.5 per cent range. BMO also noted the growth in franchises, the hot housing market and recent, substantial investments in agriculture. As well, the report notes that the technology sector in the province has major potential, with recent work by Innovation Saskatchewan helping spur the industry’s growth. However, the report also anticipates a still-soft job market in 2021 and loss of population to other provinces.

Federal Investment into Local Ventures

Western Economic Diversification announced several investment into Saskatchewan companies and organizations on August 3, 2021. Among them are:

  • Battleriver Bison Preservation Inc.: $250,000 to develop an Indigenous tourism experience by reintroducing plains bison to the prairies.
  • Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce: receiving $15,000 to develop and launch an annual business confidence survey in Saskatoon and region.
  • Hatchet Lake Development Limited Partnership: $100,000 to install equipment at Wollaston Lake airport to improve access to the northern communities
  • International Minerals Innovation Institute: $75,000 to support the Alternative Energy Systems Innovation Challenge for Saskatchewan mining.
  • Little Black Bear’s First Nation: $261,600 to expand Indigenous grain farm operations in southern Saskatchewan.
  • PLATOSask Testing Inc.: $350,0000 to train Indigenous software testers in Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance: $15,000 to host a virtual forum to support inclusive regional economic development in Saskatchewan.
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic: $99,786 to purchase a drone with sensing and mapping technology for industry services and training.
  • University of Saskatchewan: $100,000 to procure equipment to support pulse starch utilization in biomaterials; $850,000 to purchase genomics equipment to serve crop breeders in developing new crop varieties, via Global Institute for Food Security, Omics, and Precision Agriculture Laboratory, and to undertake the first Let’s Talk About Water industry engagement events through the Global Institute for Water Security.

Next week: K+S half-year financial report on August 12

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