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Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Economic and Co-operative Development Minister Janice MacKinnon today

announced support of $276,650 from the Strategic Initiatives Fund

(SIF) to the University of Saskatchewan to conduct research on better

methods of locating and evaluating sodium sulphate deposits. This

research could lead to the discovery of new deposits and create up to

1,200 new direct and indirect jobs in exploration, mining and

processing of this mineral.

Saskatchewan is one of the world's largest suppliers of sodium

sulphate. The mineral and its derivatives provide valuable exports

and important industrial materials, but little is known about how and

where the mineral forms. The university's research could make

deposits easier to identify and lead to increased economic activity in

the province's mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

"This project is an example of how innovation and research can create

new opportunities for Saskatchewan," Energy and Mines Minister Eldon

Lautermilch said on behalf of Minister MacKinnon. "We're working to

maximize the benefits from a key provincial resource, one that affects

not only industry but our daily lives."

Sodium sulphate has been mined in the province since 1918 and is used

in the production of detergents, glass, paper and textiles. Sodium

sulphate, when combined with potash, produces potassium sulphate which

is used as fertilizer.

Potassium sulphate is also used as an oil field drilling mud

additive and as a drying-accelerator in the manufacturing of

gypsum wallboard. High-purity potassium sulphate is used in the

manufacturing of grinding wheels and other specialty products.

"The University of Saskatchewan welcomes this funding to a very

promising young researcher, Dr. Chris Holmden, Assistant

Professor of Geological Sciences, who received Strategic

Initiatives Fund support earlier this year for another project,"

said Dr. Michael Corcoran, U of S Vice-President of Research.

"We are pleased to partner with the Saskatchewan Government in

order to carry out this basic research that has so many potential

spin-off benefits for the province."

The government's Strategic Initiatives Fund, from which this

study is being assisted, encourages the development of new

technologies and research capacity in Saskatchewan. Administered

by Saskatchewan Economic and Co-operative Development, the fund

is designed to enhance Saskatchewan's competitiveness and assist

in the development of new, value-added products.

"This sodium sulphate project is an excellent example of how the

Strategic Initiatives Fund is designed to work," Lautermilch

said. "By strengthening Saskatchewan's research capabilities, we

are providing more resources and services to build our economy

and create jobs."

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For more information, contact:

Bob Ellis

Economic and Co-operative Development


Phone: (306) 787-1691

Dr. Chris Holmden

Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences

University of Saskatchewan

Phone: (306) 966-5697

Kathryn Warden

Research Communications Officer

Office of the Vice-President Research

Phone: (306) 966-2506
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