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IW Business Bulletin – December 2, 2022

The Ground Truth Ag field trial team on a farm near Holdfast, Saskatchewan in August 2022.

Optimism for Saskatchewan’s economy

The Conference Board of Canada released its newest forecast for economic growth for Canada’s provinces on Dec. 1. The Conference Board announced that it expects Saskatchewan’s real GDP growth is forecast to reach 6.8 per cent in 2022, driven by improved crop production, and potash and uranium markets. The Conference Board also projects the province’s economy will grow another 3.6 per cent in 2023 and 2.6 per cent in 2024.

“Rising interest rates are applying pressure across the country, but other more specific factors are affecting provincial outlooks unevenly,” said Ted Mallett, director, economic forecasting for The Conference Board of Canada. “Although the country as a whole is in for a few quarters of effectively zero growth, prospects for the provinces vary considerably—broadly in keeping with our previous forecasts.”

Regina small businesses announce closures

Three local Regina businesses announced they will be closing their doors in December. Lancaster Tap House will shutter its south Regina location in December while its downtown location will remain open. Warehouse Brewing Company announced it would close its Warehouse District location on Dec. 2. The craft brewer opened just five days before the pandemic would close down the province in March 2020. Fat Plant Farm, a local plant store, also announced it will end its in-person retail business in December, with hopes to maintain an online presence for plant lovers.

Foran Mining expands 2023 exploration plans

Foran Mining released its 2023 exploration plans on Nov. 30, with expansion of the plans at its McIlvenna Bay project in northern Saskatchewan.

“2022 has been a truly transformative year for the company. Following the announcement of our initial phase feasibility study, Foran made a significant near-mine discovery in the Tesla Zone, and also announced the proposed strategic investment by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. However, our greatest success has been the growth of our most important commodity: people, as we continue to bolster our talented team and culture,” said Dan Myerson, Foran executive chairman and CEO. “We look to carry this strong momentum into 2023 as we further de-risk McIlvenna Bay, with credit facility discussions progressing very positively and expanded exploration activities underway to potentially unlock the untapped value of our properties towards building Canada’s next great mining district.”

As well, the company updated its advanced exploration decline program, reporting that the development of the boxcut and portal has now been completed with the decline developed to approximately 130m in length.

Prairie Lithium commissions pilot plant

Prairie Lithium Corp. has commissioned its third iteration of their Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) pilot plant at their Emerald Park testing facility.

According to Prairie Lithium, the DLE pilot is designed to process deep subsurface brines sourced from Prairie Lithium’s Fall 2022 drilling program. The pilot plant uses “Prairie Lithium’s Ion Exchange (Plix) material designed to selectively extract lithium from the produced brine water, purposely reducing the amount of contaminants that are carried over into the production stream.”

“This is really a testament to the team we have at Prairie Lithium, relentlessly improving and pushing our technology towards commercial deployment. Doing so without sacrificing quality or safety under tight timelines to keep the project on schedule,” said Don Bender, Prairie Lithium’s research, development, & engineering manager.

Prairie Lithium expects the plant to provide the information required to enable the design of a field demonstration plant for deployment on a Prairie Lithium wellsite.

Regina agtech startup closes $4 million seed round

Ground Truth Agriculture Inc. (Ground Truth Ag) announced on Nov. 29 that the company has closed its seed funding round with $4 million to develop its lab quality grain analysis technology.

“During harvest on my family’s farm, I would think about the effort that went into optimizing that year’s yield,” said Kyle Folk, CEO for Ground Truth Ag. “And then we would send a grain sample to a lab with a volume equivalent to what comes off a four foot square piece of land to judge the quality of a harvested area of at least 75 football fields. Where is the precision in that?”

The funding round was led by Conexus Venture Capital Inc. and includes $2 million from its Emmertech fund. Other investors in the round include SaskWorks Venture Fund Inc., Tall Grass Ventures, Golden Opportunities Fund Inc., WTC Investments LP, private investors and new commitments from existing shareholders.

“Finding an experienced team led by a repeat founder in the agtech space is extremely rare here in Canada. We are excited to be working with Kyle given his experience in scaling and exiting an agtech company,” said Conexus Venture Capital Inc. and Emmertech managing director Sean O’Connor. “We believe that Ground Truth Ag is the missing piece in helping give meaningful clarity to the farmer on the outcomes of their precision agriculture practices.”

CN donates to STARS

CN announced its donation to Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) in Saskatchewan on Nov. 29, donating $100,000 to fund STARS’ operations in the province.

“The service STARS provides often means the difference between life and death for those in urgent need. We, at CN, are proud to support the efforts of this outstanding team. As a former Board member of STARS, I understand the important role this organization plays in the lives of so many communities, including Saskatchewan. I encourage all companies with a presence in Saskatchewan to donate generously to this incredible organization,” said Tracy Robinson, president and CEO at CN.

Fortune Bay strikes agreement with Ya’ thi Néné Lands and Resources and Athabasca First Nations

Fortune Bay Corp. reported Nov. 29 it has formalized an exploration agreement with Ya’ thi Néné Lands and Resources (“YNLR”), Hatchet Lake Denesułiné First Nation, Black Lake Denesułiné First Nation, Fond du Lac Denesułiné First Nation (the “Athabasca First Nations”) and the Northern Hamlet of Stony Rapids, the Northern Settlement of Uranium City, the Northern Settlement of Wollaston Lake and the Northern Settlement of Camsell Portage (the “Athabasca Municipalities”, and together with the Athabasca First Nations, the “Basin Communities”).

“Fortune Bay is committed to responsible stewardship of the environment, and building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with project communities. We are pleased to have reached this Agreement with the Basin Communities, which formalizes those commitments and provides consent and support for our current and future activities. Through this Agreement, we look forward to building upon the relationships we have established with the communities and local businesses, as we advance our gold and uranium projects in the Uranium City area,” said Dale Verran, CEO for Fortune Bay.

The agreement covers Fortune Bay’s exploration and evaluation activities within and in proximity to these traditional territories. As well, the agreement establishes a relationship between Fortune Bay and the communities regarding the activities, ensuring they are conducted in a sustainable manner and with respect for the Aboriginal and treaty rights, title and interests of the Athabasca First Nations and protection for their traditional lands.

“We welcome the partnership with Fortune Bay that we are establishing through this Agreement and the mutual benefits that we will each realize. Our goal at YNLR, as protectors of the land and promoters of the people of Nuhenéné, is to ensure our communities meaningfully participate and benefit from projects happening on our lands. That is our intent and the commitment being made today with a partner that acknowledges and respects our rights,” said Christopher Toutsaint, YNLR Board of Director for Fond du Lac Denesułiné First Nation.

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