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Saskatchewan Mining Association (SMA)

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Overview

Saskatchewan Mining Association Supports Canada’s Small Modular Reactor Action Plan

The Saskatchewan Mining Association (SMA) is an industry-driven organization representing the mining and mineral exploration industry with over 25 mining operations in the province. The SMA is the voice of the mining industry in Saskatchewan and it advocates on behalf of members on issues related to provincial and federal regulatory changes, develops and supports educational outreach programs, organizes and hosts public outreach and membership events. The mission of the SMA is to advance a safe, sustainable and globally competitive exploration and mining industry in Saskatchewan that benefits all residents of the province. Saskatchewan mining operations directly employ more than 12,400 individuals and are among the largest employers of Indigenous Peoples. Total direct and indirect jobs in Saskatchewan’s mining sector is approximately 30,000.

In 2018, Saskatchewan was the 4th largest mineral producer in Canada with a total value of mineral production of over $6.7 Billion. Globally, SMA uranium members are the 2nd largest producers of uranium from the highest-grade uranium mines in the world, along with significant reserves and new discoveries. Uranium from Saskatchewan mines provides clean electricity and typically offsets over 500 million tonnes of CO2 annually and are among the lowest emitting facilities globally.

The SMA and its members are committed to being active partners in the transition to a lower carbon future. The SMA views small modular reactors (SMRs) as an exciting evolution in nuclear technology that have the potential to be used as sources of both on-grid and off-grid power and heat generation at mine sites in Saskatchewan. We are pleased to support the government of Canada’s Small Modular Reactor Action Plan for the development and deployment of these technologies.

The federal government’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 underpins the need for governments, economic sectors and businesses to make investments in the development and implementation of technologies and infrastructure that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. Nuclear energy and the deployment of SMRs provide the dual benefit of producing virtually emissions free baseload electricity while also providing the backbone that supports the introduction of more intermittent renewable energy to power grids.

The Saskatchewan mining sector sees opportunities for existing and future mining projects that may benefit from the deployment of SMRs. The exploration for mining of uranium for SMR fuel is the most obvious example, but there are also opportunities related to the mining of critical minerals/rare earth elements that are present in the many forms of renewable energy technologies that would be deployed in tandem with SMRs.

Future mining operations in Saskatchewan, and northern, remote communities, could deploy SMRs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide reliable electric supply in a manner that is consistent with the SMA’s culture of safety and environmental sustainability. The future deployment of SMRs could also be a new area of economic opportunity for Indigenous people, communities and businesses as workers, suppliers and potentially, equity partners.
There are a number of Saskatchewan Indigenous Economic Development organizations that already have the benefit of decades of experience working in the uranium/nuclear energy sector.

The deployment of SMRs in either on-grid or off-grid applications in Saskatchewan will require dedicated and meaningful engagement, particularly in northern and indigenous communities and with community leaders. Many Saskatchewan mining companies have taken the time and effort to establish the respect and trust necessary to have strong
relationships with their partner communities. The SMA looks forward to continued/future engagement on SMRs.

For the reasons outlined above, the SMA supports Canada’s SMR Action Plan and its proposed “Statement of Principles”. The SMA looks forward to working with Natural Resources Canada, the government of Saskatchewan and Canada’s nuclear industry to capitalize on the opportunities that SMRs present for economic and environmental sustainability and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Please refer to the attached “Partner Chapters” for the SMA’s proposed actions to support the SMR Action Plan, including results and timelines.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Exploring SMRs in the Saskatchewan Mining Industry
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SMA01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 51

ACTIONS

  • The SMA will engage members in discussions regarding the potential utilization of SMRs at their facilities in addition to discussions of other low carbon electricity options such as renewables, co-generation and hydro.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Increases member awareness of low carbon electricity options with respect to power generation.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum - Retooling
STATUS: UPCOMING
SMA02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12, 20, 35

ACTIONS

  • The SMA will seek opportunities to engage supply chain vendors, including Indigenous owned/operated vendors and SMA members during annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forums (MSCF)         

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Host a SMR workshop during the MSCF to discuss current state of: SMR technology development; consultations; supply chain opportunities; etc. to help ensure an understanding of the issues and opportunities around SMRs. Partners would include Saskatchewan Industrial Manufacturing Suppliers Association, (SIMSA) Sask. Trade and Export Development (TED)

(Note: a SMR workshop was held during the 2019 MSCF)

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
SMA SMR Task Force
STATUS: UPCOMING
SMA03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12

ACTIONS

  • Establish a SMA SMR Task Force comprised of representatives from SMA member companies          

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Act as primary contact for any federal and provincial discussions and consultations regarding SMRs
  • Provide support to federal and provincial governments during discussions with Indigenous and community members
  • Identify areas of opportunity for utilization of SMRs at/near SMA member mines (electricity with or without heat)
  • Participate in discussions with the Saskatchewan Nuclear Secretariat
  • Participate in discussions with SaskPower
  • Collaborate with other industrial associations and organizations as warranted (Sask Chamber, SIECA, SIMSA)
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
SMA Environmental Forum
STATUS: UPCOMING
SMA04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12, 13

ACTIONS

The SMA will seek opportunities to engage consultants, SMA members, academia and regulators during future SMA Environmental Forums           

EXPECTED RESULTS

Presentations by SMR vendors, consultants, regulators, academia and others will help to foster greater understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with SMRs (note a presentation on SMRs and their application in mining and northern locations was provided at the SMA’s 2018 Environmental Forum)

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Promoting diversity in the future SMR workforce & nex-gen nuclear talent
STATUS: COMPLETE
SMA05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 39, 49, 21, 48

ACTIONS

To represent a diverse and inclusive workforce, develop career cards featuring Indigenous employees in the uranium mining sector. These can be used at career fairs and incorporated into career/workplace curriculum in K-12.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Inspire indigenous youth to acquire necessary education and skills so they are part of the nuclear workforce.
  • More indigenous students pursue careers in the nuclear sector
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
K-12 & Post-Secondary programming
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SMA06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48, 21

ACTIONS

Work with Ministry of Education, educators and post-secondary institutes to utilize nuclear-related examples in non-nuclear specific programming such as economics, marketing, math, social studies, sciences and/or develop lesson and unit plans with a nuclear focus   .

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Students have evidence-based information about nuclear and it’s use as an important clean energy option;
  • Strengthened multi-disciplinary perspectives about nuclear power and related supply chains
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Engagement of educators and influences in nuclear sector
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
SMA07

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 50, 48, 21

ACTIONS

Offer site trips and workshops (professional development opportunities) to educators and influencers to nuclear sites, including mines, mills, reactors, so they see operations first- hand (including safety, careers, environment, community engagement – employment and business). We currently do this through the SMA GeoVenture Teachers Program.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Educators and influencers are informed, on a first-hand basis, about the sites multi-faceted operations and become sustainable ambassadors to the nuclear sector.
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS & CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
SMA Support of SMR Trade Missions – Promoting Industry Leadership; Dissemination of nuclear energy information to non-nuclear audiences
STATUS: COMPLETE
SMA08

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 34, 50

ACTIONS

It is critical that any markets that are opened to the SMR value chain, including uranium, remain open with unfettered access. To support this, the SMA will provide support to Trade Missions or Trade Agreements that are promoting the adoption of SMRs and/or utilization of uranium produced in Saskatchewan, through the development of information/material that would identify Saskatchewan as a secure and reliable supplier of uranium.  

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Print and electronic material, including infographics, will be developed to identify the key attributes of uranium exploration and mining in Saskatchewan. This will provide civil society with a better understanding of a portion of the nuclear sector.