Q1 - Ron, you are the Mayor of Rocanville, a small town in Saskatchewan known for the largest oil can in the world, crop circles and most importantly, home to one of the largest potash reserves in Canada. How important is potash for your community?
Potash is very important to the Town of Rocanville - pretty much every area of the town is impacted in some way by the presence of a potash mine so close to the community. Big industry requires housing for its employees, industrial and retail support from our businesses, and recreational facilities/programs for people to enjoy outside work hours.
Q2 - What are some of the economic benefits that come directly from being a potash mining community?
Nutrien has been a tremendous support over the years to the community in the form of donations/sponsorship. Some of their contributions in the past have been for a mutual benefit (sponsorship towards the community hall allows them to have a nearby facility to hold company events, generous donations towards some of our firefighting apparatus as the town fire department act as a backup to the mine in the event of an emergency, etc), but they have made numerous other contributions towards our municipality.
We also receive funds from the provincial government due to proximity to the mine in the way of the Municipal potash tax sharing program. Some of the indirect economic benefits of being a potash mining community includes a regular influx of contract labourers coming to town for extended lengths of time, spending money in our community and staying in our available housing, using our recreation facilities, etc.
Q3 - What is it like to live in a town which depends on a natural resource for its livelihood? What are some of the challenges you face as a community?
I wouldn't consider Rocanville to be dependent on potash for its livelihood, but it does play a big part of the overall economy in the area. This diversity does alleviate some of the challenges normally faced if/when there is any type of slowdown within the potash industry.
Q4 - Are there any concerns with labour shortages in the future? What would you say to students or young professionals who are thinking of working in the natural resource industry?
Labour shortages are always of concern. The workforce at the mine only seems to get larger, and there will always be a need for the next generation of workers in the natural resource industry. Whether that be professionals, skilled trades, or just experienced labourers, that natural resource sector is a huge part of local economy.
Q5 - Due to the current Russian-Ukraine conflict, there have been a lot of conversations about critical Russian exports and how much other countries depend on them (like oil & gas and potash). How has the conflict affected a potash producing community like yours?
As with any global conflict, the biggest impact will likely be with any of our residents affected. Every community will likely have people that are affected at least in part. As far as any longer-term effects, that will likely depend on the length/severity of the Russia/Ukraine conflict.
Q6 - Nutrien recently announced its intention to expand its potash production in response to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. What does this mean for your community?
Nutrien has for some time been prioritizing its potash production from some of its lower-cost mines, and we have the benefit of being one of those mines. With that, I don't believe there will be much capacity for short-term production increases, but could involve larger projects that would lead to longer-term production increases. Expansions generally lead to larger workforce requirements, both temporary and permanent which could involve town growth and more residents.
Q7 - What does the future of Rocanville look like? What are your hopes for your community within the next 5-10 years?
The future of Rocanville is very exciting. Within the next 5-10 years I hope to see more residents in town, upgrades to some of our aging infrastructure and facilities, and start saving for future town developments and enhancements.
Q8 - Why should all Canadians care about the development of natural resources?
Canadians should care about the development of natural resources because it is one of the biggest things we have to offer - both within our own borders as well as for export. There is a tremendous need for resources around the world - some of which are only available in Canada.
There are a finite amount of resources available with current technology, so harvesting existing resources often leads to developments of new methods and technologies of acquiring more resources. This will be crucial for future generations.
Q9 - Anything else you would like to share with our readers in regards to the importance of Canadian natural resources?
Canadian natural resources are a huge part of many communities across Canada. The vast reserves available within our country give us a huge advantage globally - first of all, to become self-sufficient in filling our own resource needs, then moving on towards export/trade capability for any resources not readily available to us.
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