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Environment

Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals works closely with government, non-government organizations and the local community to ensure that the unique environmental conditions at Chaplin Lake are protected, and even enhanced.
Chaplin Lake is Canada’s second largest inland saline water body. Besides being a source of high-quality sodium sulphate, the lake is also excellent habitat for a number of migratory shorebird species. The sodium sulphate reserves at Chaplin Lake occur naturally as Glauber’s salt (mirabilite). Raw salt is recovered from the deposit using a complex brining process that requires a reliable supply of water. Local spring runoff and precipitation are the primary source of water. Water diverted from the Wood River is the secondary source. Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals and Ducks Unlimited jointly manage the Wood River diversion. The diverted water flows through Chaplin Creek for eleven miles before entering the first of three Heritage Marsh ponds operated by Ducks Unlimited. The water flows through each of the two-mile long ponds before entering the first Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals freshwater storage area.

A number of earth grades installed across the alkali flat create a series of brining divisions. Water from the freshwater storage areas is released onto the brining areas as required. The depth of each division varies, but is managed in a way that optimizes the formation of dense brine. This brine is then pumped into brine reservoirs.

Excellent Shorebird Habitat

Controlling the brine depths results in a large area flooded with shallow depths of brine for an extended period of time. This is excellent habitat for shorebirds, particularly for their feeding activities. Managing the brine depths also ensures that this habitat is available later in the summer when other surrounding lakes are dry.

Chaplin Lake is part of the Chaplin/Old Wives/Reed Lake complex designated as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site in 1997. These lakes provide feeding and resting habitat for over 100,000 shorebirds each year, a critical link as they travel between their breeding and wintering grounds.

Chaplin Lake also provides important shorebird nesting habitat, including significant numbers of the endangered piping plover. About 30 species of shorebirds – including sanderlings, stilt sandpipers, and semi-palmated sandpipers – use Chaplin Lake to nest or as a stopover site each summer.

Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals co-operates with the Chaplin Nature Centre to develop the area’s potential as an education and ecotourism site. Guided tours along the grades enable tourists to get a close view of the shorebirds and their habitat.

Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals also co-operates with a local brine shrimp company that nets small shrimp (artemia) from the brine reservoirs. The shrimp are packaged, frozen, and distributed to aquariums and other users around the world.

Environmental Monitoring and Protection

Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals has the required approvals and agreements with the Ministry of Environment, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Food and other land controllers to transfer water, raise and lower water and brine levels, fill and drain reservoirs, and discharge process effluents.

The water and brine levels, volume of water transferred from freshwater storage areas, volume of well water, and  volume and composition of influents and effluents are all monitored, measured, and reported as required.

The company follows all regulations and protocols for storing chemicals and petroleum products in approved tanks and totes, or in approved warehouse areas. Waste oil and waste antifreeze are also stored in approved tanks and are recycled by licensed contractors.

Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals is proud of its 60-year record in extracting a premium product from an environmentally sensitive area in a manner that protects this unique natural resource.