Mining sector helping communities during pandemic
- NC Raine | June 05, 2020
The Saskatchewan mining sector is taking steps to support vulnerable communities and individuals to ensure everyone keeps their heads above water during the pandemic.
Mosaic has three potash projects in Saskatchewan and over twenty phosphate operations in the US and South America. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, they have provided a total of $100,000 to the ten First Nations that surround their Saskatchewan operations, $9,000 to each community, and $10,000 to Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services, said Earl Greyeyes, Indigenous Engagement Coordinator at Mosaic.
The cash infusion will provide food and grocery hampers to reserve and Regina residents who need support, he said.
“There hasn’t been a person that is not affected by this (pandemic). We’re just happy to be able to support the First Nations that surround our operations,” Greyeyes said.
“As this pandemic came into play, it was never about standing around and waiting for something to happen. First and foremost, it was maintaining the safety of our staff, and how do we keep moving forward and helping the community.”
Mosaic has also provided $25,000 to the North Central Family Centre in Regina, which not only provides food to those in need but ensures educational, social and cultural programs continue for inner city individuals.
They also gave $50,000 to Saskatchewan School Boards Association for its school lunch program organized with the City of Regina. Despite kids being out of school, Greyeyes said lunch received through the program was sometimes the only meal a child ate in a given day. To make sure no child goes hungry, bagged lunches are continuing to be made and distributed.
“We will continue to navigate how to best support our people, customers, local communities, and everyone who depends on us to grow the food they need. It’s going to be ongoing,” Greyeyes said.
Saskatoon-based Cameco Corporation, the world’s largest publicly traded uranium company, recently announced a $1 million COVID Relief Fund for Saskatoon and northern Saskatchewan charities, non-profits, town offices, and First Nation band offices impacted by COVID-19. The one-time grant recipients will receive up to $50,000 to be used for ongoing program support, COVID-19 response, or specialized programs.
K+S Potash Canada announced in April that they will be partnering with the Food Banks of Saskatchewan by matching every donation, up to $50,000, made to the Food Banks of Saskatchewan from April 27 to May 3. K+S is also empowering their employees to donate by providing $300 to each of their employees to give to the organization of their choice.
BHP, which owns the Jansen potash mine in Saskatchewan, has taken a multi-faceted approach to its response. They have been connected to the six First Nations, and six non-Indigenous communities surrounding their Jansen mine, infusing essential supplies, such as hand sanitizer, cleaner, gloves, protective clothing, vests and barriers for access point control. In total, $90,000 worth of supplies have been ordered.
BHP is also working directly with First Nations to provide proposal-driven financial contributions for their respective response efforts.
“As we continue to develop potash business in Saskatchewan, these organizations and companies are important to us. So, during the time of need, we want to be there to provide support because they have been there for us in various ways,” said Ken Smith, Manager Corporate Affairs at BHP.
Smith said BHP has donated about $100,000 to food banks in Saskatchewan.
BHP also will pay invoices to local and Indigenous companies immediately, rather than allowing itself the usual 30 days to pay. The modification will get cash to businesses sooner to help them stand in the current crisis, Smith said.
“It’s important for BHP to do what we can to ensure we support the economy to the extent we can, so businesses can come out on the other side of this thing,” said Smith.
“We recognize this pandemic is going to persist for a period of time into the future, so ensuring we provide a level of support during the duration is important. In our minds, we’re just getting started with the support.”