Business Bulletins News

IW Business Bulletin – November 19, 2021

Roquette's Pea Protein Facility at Portage la Prairie, Man. Photo by Roquette.

Saskatchewan Becoming Home to New PPE and Medical Equipment Facility

On November 16, B.C.-based Vitacore Industries announced its plans to open its new production facility in Saskatchewan in 2022. Vitacore will also expand its recycling program for single use masks and respirators in a pilot program with the Saskatchewan Health Authority at Saskatoon’s City Hospital.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Government of Saskatchewan to continue bringing the highest quality masks and respirators to Canadian frontline workers,” said Mikhail Moore, Vitacore’s president. “As the pandemic remains part of our lives, Vitacore is invested in driving Canadian innovation as one of the top medical respirator manufacturers in the world. With its labour force and space, Saskatchewan was an easy choice for our second facility – we thank the Honourable ministers Merriman and Reiter and look forward to sharing more details of the developments in coming months.”

Privately-held Vitacore is based in Burnaby, B.C. and launched in 2020 to produce Canadian-made respirators and masks for health-care providers. It is the first company to receive Health Canada authorization to produce N95 equivalent respirators in Canada, and is the only Canadian company producing N95 respirators to receive Health Canada Authorization and certification by CSA Group and European CE (FFP3) for their CAN95 and CAN99 respirators.

Big Plans for Helium

On November 15, the Government of Saskatchewan released its plan for the helium sector in the province. Entitled Helium Action Plan: From Exploration to Exports, the province wants to become a world leader in helium, with a goal to supply ten per cent of the global helium market by 2030.

“In Saskatchewan, helium exploration and production are leading to more wells, more jobs, more facilities and, ultimately, more exports,” said Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre. “We have high helium concentrations in the province and some of the most attractive geology in the world for low-emission helium production.”

The same day, Calgary’s Helium Evolution closed on $12.3 million in private placement funding. The company has more than three million acres of helium permits in Saskatchewan.

“Over the last eighteen months, our team has worked diligently to aggregate a large land position of over 3 million acres in Saskatchewan’s helium fairway,” said Greg Robb, CEO and director at Helium Evolution. “Helium Evolution is in the process of assessing its acreage using geological mapping and geophysical interpretation in order to select its first exploration drilling locations. The closing of this financing is a milestone towards accomplishing the Company’s goal of becoming a leading helium producer in North America.”

A day later, Royal Helium Ltd. announced it is proceeding with a completions program at its Climax-4 helium well, and Global Helium Corp. reported the expansion of its Saskatchewan land holdings.

“Royal’s technical team together with geotechnical consultants Dr. Chris Hawkes, and AGAT Laboratories, and completions consultants Edge Engineering, and Element Technical Services, have a high degree of confidence in the completions program for the Nazare zone. While the Nazare discovery is new to the helium industry, our completions team has extensive experience in producing from these specific types of reservoirs. They have developed a plan with techniques used extensively in many natural gas reservoirs in Saskatchewan and elsewhere to produce gas via natural and hydraulic fractures within larger pay thicknesses.  Upon successful production testing, the data will be compiled to form a resource estimate and ongoing plans for production and processing will continue to proceed,” said Andrew Davidson, Royal’s president and CEO.

Global Helium Corp. completed several acquisitions to expand its holdings to over 1.2 million acres in southern Saskatchewan’s helium fairway.

“We continue to advance our strategic priorities which include: (1) expanding our Saskatchewan land holdings, (2) evaluating our land base to advance several prospects to the drill stage, and (3) identification of other prospects across North America. We are very pleased with our progress in all of these areas,” said Wes Siemens, Global Helium president.

Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Retiring

Steve McLellan, long-time CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, has announced his retirement. McLellan, who headed the organization since 2007, will transition out of the role in January 2022.

“I am honored to have been part of this amazing team at the Chamber and am very confident the future will be incredibly positive for the staff, board, partners and members. The years ahead will be exciting and I will enjoy watching the continued success of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce,” said Steve McLellan.

A search committee has been formed to recruit a new CEO.

“Steve has served in the role of CEO since 2007 and he has decided that it’s time for him to retire, allowing him more time to focus on fishing, travel and spending time with his family. These past 14 years with Steve as our CEO have seen the role of the Chamber grow in many areas and we thank Steve for his commitment to the organization, its members, and his focus on growing Saskatchewan businesses,” said Thomas Benjoe, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce board chair.

Mining Highlights

Sentinel Resources Corp. has changed its name to EMP Metals Corp. The company has interests in lithium in Saskatchewan, and precious metals projects in New South Wales, Australia.

Fortune Bay Corp. announced it will increase the non-brokered private placement originally announced on November 1 to approximately $6,860,000. The proceeds from this offering will be used to fund exploration and project work at its Saskatchewan-based projects. Fortune Bay’s gold exploration Goldfields Project, and uranium exploration projects, Strike and Goldfields West, are located in the Athabasca Basin.

Sask Polytech Part of New Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) Network

November 18 saw the launch of Canada’s new Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) Network. This national ecosystem is “designed to modernize mining and improve its productivity and environmental performance, strengthen the Canadian mineral supply chain, and increase the domestic and export sales of Canadian innovators.”

MICA is headquartered in Sudbury, Ont., with partners across the country including Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Next Door

Roquette Officially Opens World’s Largest Pea Protein Plant in Manitoba

On Wednesday, November 17, Roquette Canada officially opened its Portage la Prairie, Man. pea protein processing facility. The 200,000 square-foot plant is the world’s largest, able to process 125,000 tons of yellow peas per year. The project is Roquette’s largest investment in North America, and complements its French pea protein facility, bringing the company’s total processing capacity to 250,000 tons of peas annually.

“We see this as a transformational event in our history and a boost to the global plant-based food sector,” said Pierre Courduroux, CEO of Roquette. “Diets have changed considerably in recent years, and the desire for alternative proteins continues to grow. Our company is proud to bring this amazing new facility online to serve demand in North America and around the world.”

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