NRT Expands to New Markets

The slowdown of the uranium market over the past couple of years has become the new normal for Dave McIlmoyl at Northern Resource Trucking (NRT).

With a continuing depression in the Uranium Industry, McIlmoyl and his team have been searching for new ways to generate revenue for NRT.

“Our revenue is down 25 per cent year over year. That tells you something,” says McIlmoyl, matter-of-factly.

Just like last year, NRT has been beating the bushes to find new work. However, this year, they have expanded their sights into Manitoba and northern Ontario to offer their trucking services. “We’re making headway into new markets. We’re getting a fair bit of work out there right now.”

For instance, NRT has landed contracts with Federated Co-op to supply their propane to sites in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Getting that contract is substantial as FCL has their fingers in many markets across Western Canada.  “We are also bidding on contract work for them as far east as Dryden, Ont., and as far west as Maple Creek in Saskatchewan,” says McIlmoyl.

He is hoping to leverage some new business through First Nations partners in the western provinces. Building relationships is something McIlmoyl believes in.

Another area targeted by NRT are the ice roads in northern Manitoba during the winter months.

“We want to get more involved there,” he says. “We’re pretty good at loading at any industrial site in Canada.”

One ace in the hole NRT has is the good name NRT has built for itself over the years in the trucking industry.

While McIlmoyl keeps trying to find new business, he keeps an eye on the uranium market, which has been the lifeblood for NRT through its partnerships with Cameco. “We keep watching Cameco. Uranium prices are getting higher slowly.”

When Cameco decided to mothball some of its mines in the last couple of years while it awaits a uranium market resurgence, McIlmoyl knew there was no alternative to getting out there to find new work. But he is confident the uranium market will rebound sooner or later.

“We decided we wouldn’t be solely dependent on uranium mining.”

However, McIlmoyl has seen the spot price for uranium slowly climb and with the large number of reactors coming on line around the globe, it’s just a matter of time before Cameco’s fortunes will change.

“There are encouraging signs, for sure,” he says. “We are ready to gear up again when the time comes.”

But until that day arrives, McIlmoyl will be focussed on keeping NRT’s bottom line in check and keeping employment available for First Nations workers in Saskatchewan.

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SSR Mine Tour

While many people in this province, especially in the north, have been waiting for an upturn in uranium mining in Saskatchewan, another valuable commodity is still forging ahead with its own agenda.

For SSR Mining, that agenda includes many employment opportunities for First Nations people in the north.

SSR Mining owns and operates the Seabee gold mine, located 125 kilometres northeast of La Ronge and is a viable option for northern residents as a stable employment opportunity.

Recently, the Chiefs and Councils of both the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation were given a tour of the Seabee operation to see firsthand what kind of work might be available for their people.

“We had them up to the site, the first time in eight years, I believe,” said Blair Gunter, SSR Mining’s Environment and Community Relations manager.

“It’s very important to us because we want to be good neighbours with the First Nations in the area,” he says. “We are really working hard on building a solid relationship with people up there.”

With Cameco’s uranium mining operations basically put on hold in recent years, Gunter says a focus has shifted to their gold mining operation.

Many former Cameco mine workers have some transferable skills to what is required for work at the Seabee mine.

“If you can find trained people already, that’s perfect for what we need,” says Gunter, who added there are also entry level positions available which give people the opportunity to learn skills needed to work at a mine.

While Seabee has not set precise employment targets for First Nations people, Gunter says the company is definitely planning to hire more as the mine operations continue and thrive.

“I think it’s something that will work out well for all parties concerned,” says Gunter.

The Seabee gold mine operation was initiated by Claude Resources before that company was bought out in 2016 by Silver Standard Resources for $337 million, before it changed its name to SSR Mining, as it is known these days. SSR Mining is based in British Columbia with other mines located in Nevada as well as Argentina.

The Seabee gold mine has been operating since 1991. In 2018, the mine delivered record gold production and is forecasting continued growth.

CanNorth Receives Perfect Score

You might notice that the staff at Canada North Environmental Services have a jump in their step these days.

Everyone at CanNorth is still riding high after the business received a perfect score of 100 per cent in a COR (Certificate of Recognition) audit last year conducted by Energy Safety Canada.

“It was pretty awesome and really spoke to the kind of staff we have at CanNorth,” says Lisa Folden, human resources manager at CanNorth’s office in Saskatoon. “We were pretty proud of the accomplishment.”
CanNorth is a private environmental consulting company which is wholly-owned by Kitsaki.

The process, which is totally voluntary for CanNorth, was challenging as it included an exhaustive review of policies, procedures, and documentation. That also included in-depth observation and interviews with a third of CanNorth’s staff, from top to bottom.

“Everything had to be checked and balanced,” Folden says.

Businesses that undergo the rigorous certification need 80 per cent to pass. For CanNorth to score 100 per cent is virtually unheard of, Folden was told.

The first time CanNorth was tested, in 2013, they achieved a 97 per cent score. But that was not good enough, Folden says. Management and staff truly wanted to do better, so they focussed on employee training and consistency in their documentation.

It worked. Evidently.

Folden was worried because the audit examination team was not letting on how well CanNorth was doing. What she didn’t realize was how good they were actually doing. But she’s not surprised.

When the final report was sent, Folden and the CanNorth staff were over the moon with some of the statements issued.

“The health and safety culture created and fostered at CanNorth provides the foundation for such amazing performance,” the report read. “Your bright and competent staff apply the established systems masterfully and allow for continuous improvement.”

Folden couldn’t agree more. “It’s a whole culture buy-in from our staff.”

The report went on to say CanNorth is a model organization and something other businesses should model themselves after.

“One hundred per cent commitment is apparent from the general manager to the newest hire.”

COR audits are highly regarded in the industry as proof of highly trained staff.

CanNorth, which also has another office based in Markham, Ontario., tries to utilize Indigenous culture in the communities it is involved in as well as employment and educational opportunities for Indigenous peoples.