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Saskatchewan Research Council

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Overview

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) is Canada’s largest provincial and territorial Research and Technology Organization (RTO).

With more than 300 employees, $91 million in annual revenue and more than 73 years of RD&D experience, SRC supports industry in Saskatchewan, Canada around the world with their technological challenges. Last year SRC served 1,500 clients in 27 countries around the world.

OUR IMPACT

SRC’s mandate is to support economic development. SRC recently released its most recent economic impact assessment which showed that the work they’ve conducted for their clients in 2019-20 had more than $1.4 billion dollars in direct economic benefit to the province. This is comprised of the creation or maintenance of 7,515 jobs in Saskatchewan, valued at $552 million dollars, and over $900M in direct economic impacts.

NUCLEAR INDUSTRY SERVICES

For more than 60 years, SRC has actively engaged with the nuclear industry on numerous fronts. Our work encompasses research to improve analyses and processes, project management and on-the-ground-work with industry throughout each stage of the production cycle.

EXPLORING URANIUM DEPOSITS

SRC helps industry to efficiently and effectively identify new prospective resources for economic development by:

  • developing mineral exploration tools, metallogenetic concept;
  • providing geological, mineralogical, geochemical and geophysical analyses; and,
  • conducting interpretations and modelling finds.

SRC has also long supported environmental protection studies and assessments, including hydrocarbon and radionuclide contamination of surface materials (soil and water) and impacts on ecosystems (forests and wildlife).

MINING URANIUM DEPOSITS AND MILLING URANIUM ORE

In Saskatchewan, both open pit and underground mines have been developed in the Beaverlodge and Athabasca Basin regions. SRC has been involved in the mining phase by providing geological analyses and interpretations, as well as instrumentation and electronics applications for underground mining.

We have helped clients develop, manage and improve their mill processes since the 1950s through mineralogical, groundwater/hydrogeology and quaternary geological investigations and pilot plant studies.

NUCLEAR FUEL PROCESSING

In both Saskatchewan and Ontario, SRC helps uranium mining companies in the nuclear fuel processing phase with environmental compliance and sustainability.

SRC is currently decommissioning its SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor, which has operated without incident during its 38 years of operation. This is the only nuclear reactor that has existed in Saskatchewan to date.

SITE REMEDIATION

SRC is currently managing Project CLEANS, the clean up of 37 abandoned uranium mine and mill sites in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin region. This includes the decommissioning and reclamation of uranium mine and mill sites and the clean up of waste rock dumps and tailings. Our technical work in this area includes environmental analytical monitoring and studies, hydrogeology, bedrock geology, mineralogy and data analysis.

SMALL MODULAR REACTORS

Saskatchewan is well-positioned to pilot both small- and large-scale small modular reactor projects and to provide any additional supporting work. Successfully pursuing this initiative requires numerous players to be involved. SRC is capable of leading this pursuit, with many years of pilot level project development and lead, field experience and lab support services.

SLOWPOKE-2

SLOWPOKE-2 is a nuclear research reactor housed at SRC Environmental Analytical Laboratories that is currently being de-commissioned. It was used as an analytical tool for doing neutron activation analysis to determine uranium and other elemental concentrations in a wide variety of sample types for various industries.

The SLOWPOKE-2 reactor has been operating safely and without incident at SRC since its commissioning in 1981. SRC has initiated the process for decommissioning the SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor after 37 years of service. The process is highly regulated and is being conducted under the stringent requirements of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

Saskatchewan supports NRCan’s Statement of Principles as outlined in the invitation to participate in Canada’s SMR Action Plan. Our involvement in the Action Plan is based on SRC’s history of having been involved in research and technology associated with climate change and emissions reductions for decades. SRC has scientists dedicated to climate change, energy efficiency approaches, alternative energy technologies and nuclear technologies as shown throughout this document. SRC has much to offer in the further development and deployment of small modular reactors. Our strength is in our ability to put technology on the ground using science as the base, working with industry, entrepreneurs and other government agencies as partners and science service providers. Success for SRC is measured in the successful application of science, clients and partners who find value with our contributions and successful engagement with Indigenous communities all of which result in growth of the Saskatchewan and Canadian economy.

ACTIONS

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Fuel supply security; Nuclear energy in climate change and clean energy planning
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 18

ACTION

SRC is currently under contract with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment that involves the collection and analysis of the some of the key initiatives to reach net zero already being implemented in selected jurisdictions. Emphasis will be placed on the review of federal, provincial/state and municipal policies, but some specific industry/company strategies will also be considered.

Saskatchewan through its Growth Strategy has committed to the potential use of SMR’s as an alternative energy source. SRC is well positioned at both the policy review level and applied research level to implement multiple components of the SMR RoadMap and resultant Action plan.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Climate change and clean energy policies are aligned with, and support, the development of innovative, low-carbon nuclear energy technologies across all interested provinces and territories in Canada. Saskatchewan, with SRC as an applied research player is an active participant in the design, build of pilot level SMR deployment project(s) and resultant application of SMR technologies.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous engagement; Engagement and capacity building in remote communities; Public and Indigenous Views; National SMR development research program.
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12, 13, 19

ACTION

SRC has owned and operated a small research reactor from planning stages to commissioning, operating and de-commissioning over almost 4 decades. SRC has experience in the licensing, operation and economics of a research reactor. SRC is also responsible for the decommissioning of 37 legacy uranium mine sites in Northern Saskatchewan. This program and its licensing processes requires extensive public engagement of northern communities. SRC has been successful in helping these communities understand the remediation processes, directly participate in the project planning and delivery and build community capacity from a social and economic perspective. The largest mine remediation project at Gunnar mine site how has Indigenous owned companies as the major contractors on site after more than a decade of project work and capacity building.

SRC also has extensive lab infrastructure and expertise available in both Regina and Saskatoon to work with the developing SMR industry in final design and testing of technologies where opportunities for working with First Nations and Metis are possible.

SRC has significant experience in undertaking and managing engagement processes with First Nation and Metis people in multiple areas in Saskatchewan and in areas across Canada – in particular, Northern Canada. We will utilize our existing relationships and approaches with these Indigenous communities to develop relationships built on understanding, capacity building and credibility. Our science core within SRC positions us to speak from a position of independent science and credibility. This approach will be applied based on opportunities provided at the Provincial and Federal level.

SRC has built positive relationships with many indigenous groups across the Province as an independent science provider who operates at a business level and at arm’s length from government allowing the company to react quickly and positively to business opportunities with Indigenous and other groups. SRC has direct working experience in building capacity in northern and remote communities.

SRC is available to assist governments with these processes and has direct experience in working with First Nations and Metis in areas within the nuclear cycle.

EXPECTED RESULTS

SRC builds on existing positive relationships to facilitate full and open discussions on SMR’s. The results from the engagement processes are shared with the Governments and industry players by SRC and by their direct engagement in the processes as facilitated by SRC. As a result, all involved have a greater understanding of the various views, concerns, and priorities related to SMRs and are able to chart joint paths forward. These processes and their fruits allow Indigenous groups to build capacity as they engage with governments and industry on SMRs.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous engagement; Engagement and capacity building in remote communities; Public and Indigenous Views; National SMR development research program.
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12, 13, 19

ACTION

SRC has worked with Provincial, Federal and international governments on a variety of research projects in various components of the nuclear cycle. SRC has laboratory/research infrastructure and Human Resource expertise to support multiple aspects of SMR research. SRC can and has partnered with universities (University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan and others) to deliver applied research projects and can use the same skills as a component of SMR technology development and application.

EXPECTED RESULTS

SRC’s diverse workforce develops joint projects such as a test loop facility, or a hydrogen generation research facility in cooperation with the University of Regina. SRC provides laboratory support and analysis to the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre and the University of Saskatchewan in support of their nuclear science activities.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous engagement; Engagement and capacity building in remote communities; Public and Indigenous Views; National SMR development research program.
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 10, 11, 12, 13, 19

ACTION

As indicated above, SRC has significant applied research expertise, industrial pilot project experience and support infrastructure to partner/support focused research SMR programs.

The University of Regina and SRC have: hydrogen production equipment and expertise to support research into hydrogen production as a by-product of SMR deployment; enhanced oil recovery(EOR) and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) expertise, which can be directed to potential applications from excess SMR thermal energy; existing research programs to support energy supply balance studies; and expertise in test loop development as a precursor to an SMR to support licencing, design, safety features, and suitability for a particular application (e.g. EOR, process heating, hydrogen production, retrofitting conventional boilers, etc.).

EXPECTED RESULTS

SRC is working in a supportive role with CNL and in partnership with Saskatchewan university(s) to provide applied research/pilot level studies on SMR technology within their SRC research facilities or within university facilities (e.g. the U of R Greenhouse Gas Technology Centre and/or the proposed test loop facility as a precursor to an SMR to support licencing, design, safety features, and suitability for a particular application).

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Strategic partnerships and business models; Training programs and education curriculum; Dissemination of nuclear energy information to non-nuclear audiences; Exploring SMRs in the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan; Engagement with heavy industry.
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 41, 48, 51, 52

ACTION

SRC can work with utilities to provide infrastructure and technical expertise to assist in the development and support of SMR pilot scale projects. SRC conducts many of its research projects in conjunction with multiple partners and could play a significant role in coordinating and delivering SMR projects in Saskatchewan where multiple interests are involved.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Demonstration proposals have a clearer and more compelling path to commercialization, as project proposals represent the full breadth of essential enabling partners needed to bring SMRs to market. Demonstration proposals represent more value by enabling greater sharing of operational experience and lessons learned among partners, with projects benefiting from the perspectives of multiple enabling partners.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Strategic partnerships and business models; Training programs and education curriculum; Dissemination of nuclear energy information to non-nuclear audiences; Exploring SMRs in the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan; Engagement with heavy industry.
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 41, 48, 51, 52

ACTION

As part of SRC’s applied research SMR programs, SRC attracts and trains staff in nuclear research and application. SRC currently has trained staff that operated all aspects of a research reactor, owned and operated by SRC. SRC has existing relationships with universities and colleges in Saskatchewan and beyond to provide opportunities for training and application on pilot scale SMR technology.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The future nuclear workforce has the skills, abilities, and resources needed for industry to meet the demands of a new emerging SMR subsector in Canada. The nuclear sector is strengthened by multidisciplinary perspectives and experience to develop new, innovative business models and solutions across technical, economic, and social issues.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Strategic partnerships and business models; Training programs and education curriculum; Dissemination of nuclear energy information to non-nuclear audiences; Exploring SMRs in the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan; Engagement with heavy industry.
STATUS: UPCOMING
SRC07

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 41, 48, 51, 52

ACTION

The mining sector as well as the oil and gas industry comprise SRC’s most significant clients in its multi-million applied research business. Energy applications and solutions forms part of SRC’s services to these sectors. Many of SRC’s pilot projects over its history has been with the mining and the oil and gas sectors. SRC is well positioned to engage with the mining and the oil/gas industries to discuss, research and apply SMR applications and to provide a non-biased science approach to the use of SMR’s within the sector. SRC is also well placed to directly undertake pilot level SMR deployment level projects within these industries.

EXPECTED RESULTS

The mining and oil/gas sectors have a full understanding of the potential benefits of SMRs and efforts underway to develop and demonstrate SMRs in Canada. They are working with SRC to undertake applied research projects and pilot level deployment of a SMR(s) in Northern Saskatchewan to understand how this technology can be applied to their sectors.