At Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals Inc. (SMMI), we’ve always believed that our sodium sulphate production on the shores of Chaplin Lake in southwest Saskatchewan have been an important part of enhancing the wetlands in the area and creating a welcoming environment for migratory birds.
Now, we’re supporting a unique research project to quantify the benefits and answer the question: “How do brining practices on Chaplin Lake benefit both the sodium sulphate production and the birds so they keep coming back?”
Research planned over the next two years on the Chaplin Lake System is a partnership between academia (University of Saskatchewan), not-for-profit (Nature Conservancy of Canada) and private industry (SMMI) – with joint funding from the Mitacs Accelerate internship program.
SMMI will work with the researchers on this new study that has two major objectives:
- To assess historic changes in shorebird numbers and lake characteristics at Chaplin and other saline lakes in Saskatchewan.
- To investigate if brine shrimp and shorebird diets reflect the water management regimes on Chaplin Lake.
There are several reasons SMMI chose to enthusiastically endorse, provide funding and share management practices with the partners:
- We believe that economic benefits do not have to come at the expense of nature.
- We support education and graduate student research.
- We value the opportunity to scientifically evaluate new water management and monitoring technologies for their utility in our ongoing operations.
At SMMI we have always understood the ecological importance of the saline lake system that is the source of our raw material.
SMMI has partnered with Ducks Unlimited on freshwater projects important to waterfowl. Ongoing research by the University of Saskatchewan, and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) have been conducted on site since 2012, focusing on migration timing, abundance and origins of Arctic- breeding shorebirds that use Chaplin Lake and nearby Reed Lake during spring and fall migration. This research has shed light on the total population size of Sanderlings (upwards of 75,000 birds) and identified wind and weather patterns that influence departure/arrivals.
We’re excited to see this latest research partnership in action and look forward to the results.