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.