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Canada wildfire moves into Saskatchewan, but little risk to mines, farms

Fri 20th May, 2016 7:46pm
By Rod Nickel 
    May 20 (Reuters) - A Canadian wildfire has moved from 
oil-rich Alberta into Saskatchewan, but that province's fertile 
farms and lucrative mines are tucked far away from the blaze's 
    The fire in northern Alberta hit the town of Fort McMurray 
in early May, forcing widespread evacuations and triggering a 
prolonged energy shutdown. Rain and wind on Friday were helping 
to beat flames back from oil sands facilities.*:nL2N18G2HD 
    One of the nearest Saskatchewan communities to the fire is 
impoverished La Loche, population 2,600, but it is partly 
protected by a nearby lake. 
    Saskatchewan accounts for all of Canada's uranium 
production, second in the world only to Kazakhstan. It is home 
to 45 percent of the global reserves of potash, a mineral used 
to fertilize crops, and its plains grow more wheat than 
    The province's uranium mines and mills, operated by Cameco 
Corp  CCO.TO  and Areva SA  AREVA.PA , are more than 200 
kilometers (124 miles) from the boundary with Alberta, said Gary 
Delaney, Saskatchewan's chief geologist. 
    Exploration uranium projects in the southwest part of the 
Athabasca basin owned by Nexgen Energy Ltd  NXE.V  and Fission 
Uranium Corp  FCU.TO  are closer to the blaze.  
    Even so, the damage from forest fires last year in the area 
mitigate the risk now, said Rob Chang, an analyst at Cantor 
Fitzgerald who follows uranium companies. 
    "It's always important to keep track," he said, noting that 
the fire can move at high speeds. But "trees in that area are 
already pretty dead." 
    Potash mines, run by Potash Corp of Saskatchewan  POT.TO , 
Mosaic Co  MOS.N  and Agrium Inc  AGU.TO , operate far south of 
the wildfire. 
    Saskatchewan's farms, which produce more canola and wheat 
than any other province, are also well south of the wildfire's 
path. Farmers are in planting season, meaning there is little 
crop material to burn in any case. 
 (Reporting by Rod Nickel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler) 
 ((; 1 204 230 6043; Reuters 
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