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IW Business Bulletin – October 8, 2021

Silicon Prairie Breaks Records

Saskatchewan’s tech sector saw record-breaking investment in the first six months of 2021. According to the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA), the province saw venture capital investment hitting $171 million for the first half of 2021.

“The investment momentum continues for Saskatchewan-based tech companies. The province’s natural economic strengths – strong wages, lower cost of living, and government programs that encourage investment – are showing the world that Saskatchewan is a great place to develop technology.” said Jeremy Harrison, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan.

This news comes on the heels of four Saskatchewan tech companies – Coconut Software, 7shifts, sMedia and Vendasta – making the list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies from the Globe & Mail’s Report on Business magazine.

Jobs Grow for Saskatchewan

Statistics Canada announced September 2021 jobs numbers on October 8, and Saskatchewan saw a drop in the provincial unemployment rate from the same time a year ago. The province’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3 per cent from 7.1 per cent a year ago. Saskatchewan saw a total gain of 11,500 jobs in September.

SREDA sees Saskatoon’s Economic Recovery Climb

SREDA announced on October 7 that Saskatoon’s economic recovery has hit 79.3 per cent, according to the organization’s economic recovery tracker. Several areas of the region’s economy are considered fully recovered, including active businesses, manufacturing shipments and retail sales. The total GDP for the Saskatoon area is now at 9.54 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. SREDA also warned that falling employment numbers are dampening recovery.

Cameco talks Uranium at TD Securities Virtual Uranium Roundtable

Grant Isaac, Cameco senior vice-president and CFO spoke at TD Securities Virtual Uranium Roundtable on October 7. Among the highlights of the discussion included Cameco’s possible plans for its McArthur River operation, which was suspended in 2018. According to Isaac, if conditions are right with production committed long-term, the company could see operations at McArthur River commence within 18-24 months upon the decision to restart.

Helium, Again

Saskatchewan’s helium industry saw more activity this week with the latest news from Global Helium Corp. The company announced the size of its Lawson Prospect has expanded from 6,400 acres to 17,000 acres. As well, Global has completed the “geological integration of all seismic shot, purchased, and reprocessed” in the Vermillion Hills region near Swift Current.

“We are very pleased with the quality of the seismic, processing and the AVO interpretation of this new data. By combining modern science with old, publicly available data, we believe the Lawson structure may be two to three times larger than we envisioned when we first acquired the permit,” said Wes Siemens, Global Helium president.

October Oil and Gas Public Offerings

The province’s October public offering of Crown petroleum and natural gas rights was held on October 5, 2021. The offering generated $1,876,806.59 in revenue for the province. The next oil and gas public offering in Saskatchewan is scheduled for December 7, 2021.

Mining Highlights

Skyharbour Resources Ltd., with its partner company, Valor Resources Ltd. announced on October 6 that the on-ground field program at the Hook Lake Project had completed, reporting high-grade uranium assay results. The project, located 60 km east of the Key Lake Uranium Mine will see another drilling program commence in December 2021 when planning is complete.

Valor’s Executive Chairman Mr. George Bauk stated: “Following on from the results published in August 2021 and desktop reviews being undertaken, we are pleased to be finalising the upcoming drill program scheduled for December. We will be targeting three key areas to begin with and look forward to the results as they come to hand,” said George Hauk, Valor executive chairman. “Over the past month with the increase in the spot uranium price we have seen an unprecedented land grab in the Athabasca Basin. Most of the Basin has been pegged which highlights the excitement and prospectively of this area. We have seven projects in and around the Basin that demand exploration attention.”

On October 7, Pegasus Resources announced its acquisition of Pine Channel Uranium Property from ALX Resources Corp., Eagle Plains Resources Ltd. and a Staking Syndicate. The property, located in the Athabasca Basin, sits 40 km west of Stony Rapids, Sask. The company will start work on exploration planning immediately.

“Despite significant success at the Pine Channel Property, including highly anomalous radioactivity being identified in structurally complex basement rocks, exploration essentially halted in 1981. We are very excited to have acquire this project, which has not only sat idle since the early 80s, but also which was explored at a time prior to the discovery of uranium in basement rocks such as at NexGen’s Arrow and Fission’s PLS Projects,” said Charles Desjardins, Pegasus CEO.

Next Door

Dow Canada Announces Net-Zero Chemical Facility in Alberta

On October 6, Dow made public its plans to build the world’s first net-zero carbon integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives site at Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. According to Dow, the project will triple the capacity of the existing Fort Saskatchewan site and the company will retrofit existing assets to net-zero carbon emissions. The investment should see Dow increasing its capacity to manufacture advantaged ethylene, polyethylene and derivatives in Alberta and “add approximately 1.8 million metric tons of capacity in a phased manner through 2030, and along with derivatives capacity and site retrofit investments, will enable the Company to produce and supply approximately 3.2 million metric tons of certified low- to zero-carbon emissions polyethylene and ethylene derivatives for customers and joint venture partners around the globe.”

“This investment builds on Dow’s strong leadership position and allows us to meet the increasing needs of customers and brand owners seeking to lower the carbon footprint of their products,” said Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO. “Our advantaged position and disciplined approach to capital investment makes us well positioned to lead the industry in decarbonizing, growing and accelerating Dow’s path toward carbon neutrality.”

Bacon Centre of Excellence in Winnipeg

October 5 saw Maple Leaf Foods announcing construction on its Winnipeg-based prepared meats plant expansion is completed. The $182 million expansion has increased the company’s bacon production capacity, with new “in-house capacity for pre-cooked, microwaveable bacon.”

The new Bacon Centre of Excellence will see commissioning and commercial production in the next few months, and will add 350 new jobs to the facility.

“We are very excited to see this project come to life,” said Michael H. McCain, Maple Leaf president and CEO. “Our vision to become the most sustainable protein company on earth applies even to our very best convenience food, which includes delicious pre-cooked bacon. This state-of-the-art facility will deliver sustainably made cooked bacon products from meat humanely raised and without antibiotics, made by a carbon neutral company. We are really proud of this.”

The Manitoba government also announced that it will invest $1.9 million through its Industry Expansion Program in a two-year agreement to assist in training for approximately 350 new and existing Maple Leaf employees at the expanded facility.

“The pre-cooked bacon industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in North America,” said Manitoba Economic Development and Jobs Minister Jon Reyes. “Our government’s investment in Maple Leaf Foods Inc.’s expansion will help Manitoba’s economy to recover from COVID-19, strengthen training opportunities in the meat sector, and support innovation and job creation in an industry that is in high demand.”

Next week: Thanksgiving – Monday, October 11.

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