Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BHP Billiton relocating business unit from Vancouver to Saskatoon

BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company is relocating their Diamonds and Specialty Products business to Saskatoon over the coming months. The move will see 30 additional jobs added to the downtown Saskatoon office, where 69 people currently work. The business unit will manage the construction and operation of the Jansen potash mine, east of Saskatoon, which when operational will be the world’s largest potash mine. The Saskatoon business unit will also operate the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories.

A recent Conference Board of Canada Report forecasts that Saskatoon will lead economic growth in Canada in 2011. Saskatoon’s economy is expected to expand at 4.1% - significantly outpacing its nearest competitor, Calgary which is set to grow at 3.4% followed by Regina at 3.1%.

What does this mean for renewable energy developers in Saskatchewan?

Developers who are currently in the SaskPower RFP process for 175 MW should consider establishing a presence in Saskatchewan. The winner (or potentially winners if split into two 87.5 MW projects) of the RFP and their subcontractors will undoubtedly face problems recruiting qualified individuals to undertake the necessary work to construct the wind projects. Competition is already fierce for engineers and construction tradespersons in Saskatchewan and companies like BHP Billiton have significantly more financial resources than renewable energy developers to retain contractors for mining projects. The financial clout of mining companies in paying top dollar for contractors, consultants and equipment will also affect those renewable energy developers who win the SaskPower 50 MW annual lottery - the Green Options Partners Program.

The rapid expansion of the mining sector in Saskatchewan will continue to put significant demands on generation in the province and it is expected that in the future renewable energy will experience strong growth to fill part of the increasing demand from mining.


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