Thinking the world of Sask. resources


Business students hear of reputation we’re developing

BY DEVIN HEROUX, THE STARPHOENIX MAY 28, 2011

Stephen Halabura, president and CEO of Concept Forge Inc.
Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix

One local geologist believes Saskatchewan’s prosperity relies on going back to the future.

Stephen Halabura, president and CEO of Concept Forge Inc., shared his knowledge about this province’s resources with business students Friday at the University of Saskatchewan.

“For 30 years there was information being kept,” Halabura said. “Nothing was happening. It’s been a whole generation that stayed frozen. That’s why the resources stayed in the ground.”

Halabura, along with a team of researchers from Anglo Potash, are responsible for revealing historical documents that showed what a trove of potash the province was sitting on.

It wasn’t until Halabura visited the third floor of the Geodata branch in Regina in 2005 that he was able to find what he calls a treasure chest – data from individual potash drilling projects showed the extent of the resource.

“I began looking through all the records of exploration projects from the 1960s. It was all there. It said everything,” Halabura said of the exploration plans shelved in a dusty back room. The government requires all exploration companies – going back to the turn of the 20th century – to file all of their exploration material.”

SPREADING THE WORD

The team found records that showed a vast network of resources covering most of the province. The research was the impetus for the Jansen project, which became the basis of BHP Billiton Ltd.’s entry into the global potash business. Today, Halabura is telling business leaders and youth around the world about Saskatchewan’s mineral riches.

On Friday, Halabura told youth at a Global Vision luncheon to take risks and be fearless.

“I’m a 20th century guy,” he said. “I’m not going to be the destiny of this province. (Youth) are going to be the destiny of this province.”

Global Vision brought Halabura in to share wisdom garnered from his aggressive career starting businesses and consulting for global companies.

The organization helps young Canadians become more business savvy.

In the audience listening to Halabura was Aaron Lingrend, who recently left Saskatchewan to pursue a degree in international business at Carleton University in Ottawa. Lingrend says although Saskatchewan is still battling stereotypes outside its borders, it’s a province many eastern Canadians are talking about.

“In my studies at Carleton, Saskatchewan was one of our main topics,” Lingrend said. “Between potash and our rich agriculture sector that we have, people are taking note.”

Global Vision has selected the native of Watrous to represent Saskatchewan on a trade mission to Malaysia and Indonesia in August. Lingrend will tell people about the province’s agriculture sector.

“I think I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneur bug,” Lingrend said. “Learning about international relations, learning about how Canadians can promote business within the global economy, this is what I hope to take away from this experience.”

LEARNING OUTSIDE CLASSROOM

Sarah Guinea, a member of Global Vision who travelled to Malaysia in the winter of 2010, organized this year’s event. The recent graduate of the Edwards school of business is moving to Calgary this fall to article for Deloitte and Touche. She says many of the experiences she learned while participating in Global Vision programs helped her realize her future.

“There are just things you can’t learn in a classroom,” Guinea said. “How to make a cold call, how to speak in front of a crowd and even how to network are things Global Vision introduced me to.”

This summer, Halabura will be taking the message about the province’s lucrative stash of resources to Europe and China.

“Now, global business leaders look not to Canada first, and then Saskatchewan via Alberta, but Saskatchewan first.”

dheroux@thestarphoenix.com