An Alberta-based company’s ambitious plans to build and operate a solar glass plant in Selkirk, and a silica sand mine on a Manitoba First Nation — two projects that would work hand-in-hand — has been given the green-light from the province.

“These projects will create good Manitoba jobs in the trades for Manitobans right here in Selkirk, as well as in Hollow Water and surrounding communities,” Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew said at a press conference in Selkirk on Wednesday.

“This announcement is part of our government’s critical mineral strategy, and will bring a significant economic benefit to Manitoba while growing our low-carbon economy.”

Plans have been in the works since 2019 for Calgary-based Canadian Premium Sands Inc. (CPS) to build a solar glass production plant in the city of Selkirk, and a silica sand quarry near the Hollow Water First Nation, a community located more than 200 km north of Winnipeg, on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.

CPS said it intends to use silica sand extracted from the mine on the First Nation for glass production at the proposed facility in Selkirk that CPS said is expected to produce approximately 800 tonnes of solar glass every day.

During Wednesday’s announcement, Environment Minister Tracy Schmidt said the province has dismissed an appeal against the sand extraction proposal which has now cleared the way for the mine to move forward, and she said both projects were “extensively reviewed by experts, and were the subject of Crown-Indigenous consultation.”

“Throughout this process we continued to hear that these projects are safe and environmentally responsible, and we analyzed the significant economic benefits these projects will have on our province as a whole,” Schmidt said.

“Ensuring the safety of Manitobans and the safety of our environment is my top priority as the minister of environment and climate change, and any time we can do that while also creating good jobs for Manitobans is a win-win.”

An assessment by the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics determined the two projects will create an estimated $200 million in provincial taxes over 10 years and have similar positive impacts on provincial GDP and labour income in this province.

Schmidt said the projects are expected to create approximately 250 direct jobs, as well as another 600 during the construction process.

Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson said on Wednesday the plant would be “transformative” for Selkirk, a city of about 10,000 north of Winnipeg.

“The project and the spinoffs it will create is going to be a huge boon to not only this region in terms of hundreds of jobs, but it’s also going to be a huge economic driver for all of Manitoba,” Johannson said.

“It will make this region a vital hub in North America’s new low-carbon economy, and be a magnet, attracting other commercial and manufacturing investments. We are excited to see the Canadian Premium Sand project reach this critical milestone.”

The province said they now expect construction to begin on the silica sand mine sometime this summer and on the glass production plant sometime in 2025.

By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 14, 2024 at 17:30

This item reprinted with permission from    The Sun    Winnipeg, Manitoba

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