SMMI secures PrairiesCan funding to diversify production and improve sustainable production practices

May 30, 2024

Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals Inc. (SMMI) is expediting construction of its sulphate of potash (SOP) processing facility and ensuring long-term production of sodium sulphate from its current facility with funding support from Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan).

Under PrairiesCan’s Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program, SMMI was recently approved for a $3 million interest-free loan to support upgrades and improvements at the mining company’s operations in Chaplin, Saskatchewan. Work has already begun to transform the site’s employee and operational spaces with the capabilities necessary to support processing of both the planned SOP facility and an upgraded sodium sulphate facility.

The PrairiesCan BSP program is designed to support high-growth businesses that are seeking to diversify, improve productivity, scale-up and commercialize technology.

“Our government’s investment in SMMI’s facility in Chaplin will help to create new value-added natural resource products, support regional strengths, and build a strong, resilient future for all Canadians,” said the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan. “The upgrades to this facility will benefit Saskatchewan’s minerals sector and economy through resource development, job creation and productivity improvements.”

SMMI has been producing and distributing sodium sulphate from its plant in Chaplin for more than 75 years. The company had previously announced it was winding down production of sodium sulphate and fully transitioning its operations to produce SOP. Due to market demand, SMMI had previously delayed the curtailment of its sodium sulphate operations and now, with the current funding from PrairiesCan, those operations will continue indefinitely, increasing production through the facility to 70,000 mt/y of sodium sulphate in 2025. Alongside this sodium sulphate production, the Chaplin facility is anticipated to begin production of SOP in 2026 and once fully completed have a nameplate capacity of 50,000 metric tonnes per year (mt/y).

SOP is a premium fertilizer with lower chloride and salt content than traditional potash products. Rather than replace current potash demands, SOP is expected to create new opportunities for Canada’s potash producers with an anticipated 80 to 90 percent of production earmarked for the United States market.

“This is a very exciting development for Saskatchewan and a meaningful contribution to the local community of Chaplin,” says Rodney McCann, President of Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals Inc. “By continuing to produce sodium sulphate, we’ll be able to continue employment at the Chaplin plant during construction of our SOP facility.”

With upgrades to equipment and processing at the Chaplin facility, SMMI will be able to:

  • Produce sodium sulphate more sustainably
  • Double the workforce at its Chaplin plant
  • Diversify revenue streams
  • Increase exports
  • Provide value-added production of a critical mineral

“The support from PrairiesCan is critical in us being able to maintain sodium sulphate production, double our workforce and showcase innovative sustainable practices in mining and production,” adds McCann. “This is a made-in-Saskatchewan success story. We’re taking a critical mineral and adding value before exporting an upgraded, high-quality product. There is nowhere else in the world that can produce the same results in a sustainable way.”

SMMI is uniquely positioned to develop a world-class SOP facility and, after construction of a second SOP production facility during phase two of the project, will become one of the top three producers of SOP globally, all while having the lowest cost of production and most sustainable process in North America.