Opinion: We’re a mining community. And damn proud of it

DATE: 05/27/2024


Mining Week is underway in Saskatchewan.

Of course, it’s a particularly important week for those of us who live in the southeast. Anyone who has spent any time living in the Estevan area should be able to vouch for the impact that mining has on our communities and our collective economy.

Estevan isn’t alone in being a mining community. You’ll find them throughout the province. While coal is our dominant mineral source, in other parts of the province you’ll find potash and uranium, two commodities that Saskatchewan is a world leader in producing. In recent years, you’ve likely heard increasing talk of rare earth metals, such as lithium, that are making a positive impact.

But even communities that aren’t blessed to have the strong presence of mining should be proud to have the industry in the province. Mining is a significant creator of jobs. Thousands of people directly owe their employment to mining. It is one of the economic catalysts of this province. It allows us to make positive contributions to the rest of the world.

Mining generates enormous royalty revenues which are then used to fund health-care facilities, schools, roads, social programs and more.

Mining companies deliver good-paying jobs for people, who then support a variety of businesses in their communities.

Safety is a big part of the mines’ operations. Both the companies and their employees take pride in their safety records. The equipment is much safer to operate than it was, the employees are better trained than they used to be, and both sides have a better understanding of what needs to be done so that everyone can get home safely to their families at the end of the day.

Reclamation is also a big part of mining companies’ efforts, as they recognize the need to have measures in place to protect the environment and restore the land to a usable condition once they are finished with it.

These companies embrace technology and innovation as means to improve their operations and make work as easy as possible for employees.

Governments need to provide regulations that guide the industry, promote safety and support the environment, but they can’t be overwhelming. If they are, the companies will pack up and leave, jobs will be lost, and we’ll be worse off.

We are proud to be a mining community. We are proud to have coal mining in our backyard. A lot of people who live outside of the southeast might shake their head in frustration at that statement, because they don’t want anything to do with coal mining or coal-fired power generation, but we want coal to continue, because it’s affordable, abundant and can now be used in an environmentally-friendly fashion.

And other urban and rural municipalities around Estevan will tell you how happy they are to have the mines here.

Every person who works in Estevan directly or indirectly benefits because of the presence of mining. You might not think that mining has enhanced your profession, but it has. We have so many great businesses in the Estevan area, in part, because of mining.

There are a lot of great people employed at the mines. They are proud of their work, the impact they have on our economy and the role they play in powering the province. Many of them serve on boards that strengthen our community.

The United Mine Workers of America Local 7606 and the Westmoreland Mining Holdings LLC have donated to many causes in the community over the years.

There are a lot of reasons for us to celebrate Saskatchewan Mining Week, not only this week but throughout the year, and to say thanks to the mining sector for all of its contributions.