Looking ahead to 2014 with President Rodney McCann

It’s always exciting to greet a new year. At Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals, we’re looking forward to a busy, healthy 2014, and according to President Rodney McCann, our customers can look forward to the premium quality and service the company is known for.

“We’re putting a lot of effort into staying the same,” says Rodney McCann, President of Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals. It seems like a contradictory statement at first, but in fact, consistency is the most challenging goal of all in a changing world. To maintain steady quality, service and price point, regardless of external pressures, is the company’s vision, and McCann believes his team is equal to the challenge.

Here are the priorities for Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals 2014, in the President’s words.

Diversification

“For some time, we’ve been developing technologies that allow us to convert sodium sulphate into sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, and as a co-product, sulphate-based fertilizers. We see this as an opportunity to open new markets and profit centres, which will help our company to remain stable and allow us to continue to be the market leader in premium sodium sulphate. In 2014, we plan on commissioning the first commercial-sized demonstration of our conversion technology in our upgraded facility in Chaplin, and shortly thereafter, assuming all goes well, we plan to open a 50- to 80-thousand-tonne-per-year caustic soda plant.”

Moving into Mexico

For several years, Saskatchewan Mining and Minerals has been working with its partners planning and building a new sodium sulphate processing facility in Sonora, Mexico.

“The plant in Mexico represents not just change for SMMI, it represents change such as our industry hasn’t seen in decades. The plant will be operational in the latter half of 2014. It’s the first green-field sodium sulphate plant built in North America in decades. We see continual growth in sodium sulphate use throughout the Americas, and the sole purpose with the Mexico plant is domestic supply in Mexico and to South America.”

Sustainable practices

“We’ve focused on managing and mitigating our effect on the environment for many years, and our customers have supported that and encouraged us to go further. We believe sustainable practices not only have a positive effect on the environment. Managed properly, they should also have a positive effect on the bottom line for any organization. It all comes down to questions of improving efficiency, which is a goal we’re always working toward. We challenge ourselves with questions like: Do we really need to operate out of 10,000 sq. ft.? Can we consolidate three of our buildings down to two? Do we have surplus assets in one location that we can reuse in another? Can we reduce our carbon emissions by idling our equipment when not actively engaged? By challenging ourselves to shrink the footprint we leave behind, we can reduce our operating costs at the same time as we reduce our environmental impact.”

Shrewd purchasing

“The cost of doing business rises annually, but we have a responsibility to keep our sale price as steady as we can. Customers are putting pressure on suppliers to be creative, to come up with ways to save money as an organization and facilitate cost reduction. Currently, we’re exploring ways to work with our own suppliers to provide us innovative payment plans, programs to ‘batch’ shipments in an effort to reduce costs of delivery and, in some cases, looking to invest in or finance improvements to their facilities in an effort to help them reduce or stabilize their costs to us. We want to help our suppliers become more efficient, not just demand it. If we can make them stronger, they will be there for us over the long term — that’s good business.

If, as an organization, you can capitalize on these opportunities to integrate sustainable practices, to be innovative and create internal efficiencies, you can become more and more healthy even under challenging circumstances.”