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IW Business Bulletin – March 10, 2023


Contracts awarded for BHP Jansen project

ATCO Frontec and George Gordon Developments Ltd. (GGDL) announced on Mar. 9 that their joint venture, Wicehtowak Frontec Services (WFS), has been awarded the contract to provide services for the BHP Jansen Discovery Lodge.

“BHP is thrilled to announce the partnership with WFS for our camp support services and embark on this meaningful work together,” said Simon Thomas, president, potash at BHP. “Together we will create local jobs and training opportunities and provide Jansen with high quality local support and services as we build one of the world’s most modern, technically advanced and sustainable potash mines. Our partnership with WFS is an opportunity to help bring this to life and is part of upholding our commitment to the six First Nations surrounding the Jansen site with whom we have Opportunity Agreements.”

The $86 million multi-year contract starts in April 2023. Discovery Lodge was built in 2012 by ATCO Structures to provide accommodations and services for up to 2,500 workers. WFS will provide “management and administration, food services, programming, housekeeping and janitorial, and maintenance work for the facility.”

The contract will create 130 local jobs, with 70 per cent planned for Indigenous people.

“This contract will help address poverty, as our community will have equitable access to sustainable long-term employment, training, and education. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with our partners,” said Chief Byron Bitternose, George Gordon First Nation.

WFS is a majority-Indigenous owned company, started in 2011 as a 50-50 venture between ATCO and GGDL.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to grow our business in Saskatchewan and work with GGDL on this project,” said Jim Landon, president at ATCO Frontec. “Our aim is to deliver the highest quality service and safety for the camp residents, and we will implement training and development programs for Indigenous employees in the hospitality industry.”

The same day, Bird Construction and BHP announced that 2Nations Bird Construction Limited Partnership (2Nations Bird) has been awarded two contracts.

2Nations Bird will perform concrete foundations work for four main non-process buildings at Jansen, in a contract valued at $62 million. As well, 2Nations Bird was awarded a three-year agreement for general site services during the execution of Jansen Stage 1, and maintenance for facilities currently in operation. The three-year service agreement is valued at $110 million.

2Nations Bird is a partnership between Bird, Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation‘s Willow Cree Developments General Partner Inc. and Fishing Lake First Nation‘s Development Corporation, FLFN Ventures.

“Indigenous and industry partnerships, such as 2Nations Bird Construction, create economic and employment opportunities for our Nation and its members. It allows us to develop capacity, learn from one another, and grow in tandem. More importantly, these types of relationships are critical to advance economic reconciliation which allows us to develop long-term, meaningful, and sustainable outcomes,” said Chief Ananas, Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation.

2Nations Bird also engaged KDM Constructors as the designated subcontractor. KDM has been involved with the BHP project for seven years. KDM is a First Nations-owned industrial construction and maintenance service provider, bringing together Kawakatoose, Day Star and Muskowekwan Nations and the SECON Group of Companies.

“With the creation of KDM, we brought together three Nations to build shared community and economic benefit, and we appreciate the long-term partnership we have had with BHP on the Jansen project. It is significant that under this new contract we now bring together six Nations, all connected under Treaty 4 Territory – creating broader benefits for the Nations across the region,” said Chief Buffalo, Day Star First Nation.

George Gordon Developments Ltd. is also a subcontractor on the site services agreement.

“We are honoured to be chosen as a key partner for BHP’s Jansen project and are committed to delivering exceptional results through our 2Nations Bird partnership over the next three years. Together, our shared values of respect and collaboration will be instrumental in creating positive and sustainable impacts in the region,” said Teri McKibbon, president and CEO of Bird. “As a service provider in this vital sector of the Canadian economy, working on BHP’s world-class, sustainable potash project is an exciting opportunity.”

Innagreen and Cowessess First Nation close deal on energy project

Innagreen and Cowessess First Nation-owned entity Awasis Nehiyawewini Energy Development Limited Partnership (ANEDLP) announced Mar. 10 they have acquired the 200MW Bekevar wind energy project from RES. The acquisition will move the project forward into construction.

“This project has been a real example of partnership working across the board. We have been working with RES and Cowessess First Nation to bring the project to commercialisation, while the innovative financing package with the CIB and Nord LB has allowed the construction of Bekevar despite tough market conditions, notably around supply chain,” said Olly Alexander, Innagreen’s CEO. “Bekevar comes after the recent acquisition of the Hilda Wind Project in Alberta, and we are also focused on additional acquisition opportunities across Canada this year. We are grateful to be working with such excellent partners, RES and ANEDLP, which will ensure Cowessess First Nation members benefit directly from this project through the project income and other employment opportunities.”

Under development since 2017, the Bekevar wind energy project will supply 200MW of zero-emissions energy to the Saskatchewan power grid when completed. Construction will begin in May 2023 and is expected to complete by the end of 2024.

“Cowessess First Nation has been involved in utility scale wind development since 2010. Here we are, 13 years later, having closed financing on our first project with RES and Innagreen. This project will benefit Cowessess First Nation in the business sector and our province in SaskPower’s goal to minimize carbon emissions. Once operational, Bekevar Wind will provide 25+ years of economic prosperity for our community. Achieving financial close is one milestone in the development journey and the team will now turn its attention to further community engagement and construction,” said Chief Cadmus Delorme, Cowessess First Nation.

The project is located on the R.M.s of Hazlewood and Kingsley and Cowessess First Nation, with Innagreen owning 83 per cent and ANEDLP owning 17 per cent. Canada Infrastructure Bank is providing $173 million in loans with NORD/LB supplying $98 million in debt financing.

Prairie Lithium receives funding from federal government

Natural Resources Canada, through the Critical Mineral Research Development and Demonstration (CMRDD) program, has provided $1.074 million to Emerald Park, Sask.-based Prairie Lithium for direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology development.

“Canadian innovators are leading the way towards a cleaner future. Today’s investment of more than $1 million in Prairie Lithium will help to advance the development of a dynamic and competitive critical minerals sector through the development and demonstration of innovative processing technologies. This means good jobs for workers, more investment in Canadian innovation, and lower emissions across the country – all part of our plan to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy that works for everyone,” said Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources.

The funds will be matched by Prairie Lithium and will be focused on development of the proprietary DLE technology over the next 12 months.

“Securing support from NRCan is instrumental for the company’s development and further demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to developing key critical mineral projects across the country. The grant allows us to accelerate our DLE technology development with the goal of getting to commercial scale lithium production as quickly as possible,” said Zach Maurer, president and CEO at Prairie Lithium.

Prairie Lithium is a lithium brine resource and technology developer operating in Southeast Saskatchewan.

WestJet adds more flights

WestJet announced on Mar. 6 that it will add more flights to its summer schedule for Saskatchewan.

The Edmonton – Saskatoon and Edmonton – Regina service will run 14 times weekly for summer 2023, and Winnipeg to Saskatoon will fly 12 times weekly.

“Providing our guests with even more opportunity to travel across our network this summer comes as a result of a thoughtfully designed schedule that balances the high demand for travel alongside a reliable and resilient operation,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Group executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “With more seats available for booking and added capacity on popular routes, our summer schedule reflects a strengthened commitment to providing seamless domestic and transborder connectivity for our guests.”

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