Exploration Hub Opens in La Ronge
Athabasca Catering (ACLP) used downtime in its operations due to reduced uranium production toward the end of the 2010s to invest its efforts expanding its client base outside that sector. When the pandemic shut things down even further, ACLP was already exploring new avenues for expansion, identifying many opportunities for growth.
This macro approach to strategy has served ACLP well as it ramps up to meet increasing mining sector growth fueled by global demand for uranium and rare earth metals. The calendar’s year end will also drive investors to release significant growth and exploration funding. For December 2022, this means a massive increase in the request for ACLP’s services.
“This year is nuts,” says Alan Cole, ACLP’s Managing Director. “We’ll easily meet pre-pandemic averages serving our existing operating clients alone, and we’ll add to that with new clients in exploration by at least 25-30% in 2023.”
ACLP has been investigating new opportunities and markets since 2017, first identifying a gap in services to the exploration segment in northern Saskatchewan.
“We knew the services that segment needed were in our wheelhouse,” says Cole. “Our crews have no problem working at camps and in the bush. Shorter-term contracts also have the flexibility our team members are looking for.”
Opportunities in exploration and growth in the mining sector overall pushed the needle on ACLP’s goals to move toward a full-service operation. They added internet and communications to the established roster of ACLP services in 2019. Tented accommodations followed soon after.
“In 2022, we went full-service,” says Alan. “We took advantage of the opportunity a slower market provided when it came to enhancing our skillset, and also used that space to promote our services.”
New relationships with a helicopter operator and Saskatch- ewan-based drilling company shifted ACLP’s offerings to covering a full complement of related services, moving ACLP to explore warehousing options closer to operations. The new exploration hub in La Ronge opens at the end of 2022.
“Our La Ronge warehouse is ground zero for our operations in the north,” says Cole, “Logistically, it’s an important staging space that helps us maintain and distribute vital equipment to existing and future clients.”
A regional hub with warehousing capacity also enables ACLP to buy bulk and control more aspects of the supply chain, giving them more control on costs, and ability to estimate for the year ahead. The exploration hub helps ACLP and its clients mobilize on various projects, while also generating more opportunities for regional employment.
“One ACLP differentiator is that it’s Indigenous-owned,” says Cole, “We’re also able to provide a range of services without extensive subcontracting. This gives us, and our clients, greater ability to estimate overall project costs and plan for margins that its clients can manage.”
Regional, direct service models are taking prominence in the resource-related sectors across Canada, enabling service providers to plan for more kinks in the supply chain along a products’ journey from manufacturing to operations. This model, and the soon-to-open exploration hub, strengthen ACLP’s buying position.
“No matter how big your buying power is, you can’t control world pricing inflation rates,” says Cole. “It’s about the standard approach to commercial models. ACLP’s estimation is more holistic, build around considerations for flexibility in delivery if the dominant commercial options are unavailable.”
Lots of action needs lots of hands! Find out more about ACLP projects and career opportunities at athabascacatering.com.