Mine Supply warehouse supervisor, Wes Champ remembers driving some parts out to B.C. overnight to ensure the client had them when they needed them the next day. More than once. That’s the kind of service you get when dealing with this Saskatoon-born company, serving mining operations across Western Canada since 1966. With over 50 years of operation, the company has continually modified its focus to reflect the needs of clients and the ever-changing demands of an industry that is constantly in flux.
The Potash Company of America became the country’s first potash producer in Canada when Patience Lake began operations in 1958. At this time, mine development kicked into high gear across Saskatchewan’s Prairie Evaporite Formation. Duval Sulphur & Potash was building a potash mine at Cory (still in operation today by Nutrien) and expressed their frustration at the lack of regional mine supply companies to their lawyer, Regina-based Jim Balfour. Balfour took an idea to his longtime friend Warren Champ, and Saskatchewan’s first mine supply company was born.
Until the province’s potash mines came online in the late 1960s, the world’s potash market centred around operations in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Champ and Balfour headed down to America’s potash basin to see the industry in action and connected with Elmer Skinner, owner of The Mine Supply Company, serving the region’s potash mines since 1946. That connection led to a partnership and the creation of Mine Supply Company. Champ and Balfour decided to centre operations in Saskatoon, with major potash operations centred around the city and hard rock mining to the north.
Mine Supply Company’s focus in the early days was on providing consumables to the mining contractors building the headframe and sinking the shafts. When production began to amp up around 1970, Mine Supply switched its focus to underground equipment and consumables. The Mine Supply Company of Carlsbad was the distributor for American Brattice Cloth (ABC), so naturally that relationship shifted to the Canadian office and eventually led to the establishment of ABC Canada. ABC Canada remains an important Saskatchewan manufacturer and one of Mine Supply Company’s most valued brands.
Mine Supply Company has always focused on developing brand relationships that best serve client needs. In the 1990s, this meant further diversifying its product lines to include new focuses on ground support for clients in northern B.C. and Saskatchewan, underground lighting for mobile equipment, and specialized underground doors. Increased potash production schedules in the 2000s meant a strong focus on Continental Conveyor systems (now Komatsu), as mines ran at their highest capacity. The company has made its mark at every site across the province.
Right from the beginning, a dedication to customer service drove Mine Supply Company employees.
“No matter what product we were selling, we always knew we were in the service business,” says Champ. “When Jack Merrick joined the company in the 1960s, he quickly became a legend in the industry. He believed you did whatever was needed to make the customer happy. And that’s how the company has always done it, whether that means driving overnight to B.C., Esterhazy, Grand Cache, or wherever. We help our clients get the job done.”
Mine Supply Company employees remains in touch with end-users at site, working with them to develop solutions for site-specific issues, and working to align products with the clients’ production goals. To find out more about this Saskatchewan company and its premium product lines, visit www.minesupplyco.com, or call the office to connect with their sales team at 306-653-1056.by