A Trusted Partner

Athabasca Basin Security

Since 2002, Athabasca Basin Security has provided a range of industrial security services for some of the top companies in Canada’s mining industry. The Saskatchewan-based company is Aboriginal owned, focused on promoting economic development and employment opportunities in the Athabasca basin and beyond.

Athabasca Basin Security was established in 2002 to directly address many issues related to safety and security in the industrial sector. Owned by seven Saskatchewan residents as a limited partnership, the company has had great success in providing much-needed services for the booming mining industry.

The mining sector requires comprehensive security in its large industrial installations. Mining operations involve huge areas, with many avenues for potential crime. There is substantial risk of stolen or damaged equipment, and companies rely on security to prevent equipment loss and related inefficiencies. The current high price for scrap metal means that industrial sites must remain secure, or else their operations could be cut short. Security is also important to ensure the safety of all authorized and unauthorized persons entering the operations site.

Over a decade ago, the team that launched the company saw the success of the area’s mining sector. With their smarts and strategic thinking, the team figured out which gaps could be filled in the field. Ron Hyggen, CEO explains that the team “asked themselves how they could get involved within the mining sector. After speaking to a few different operators up north who were mining at the time, they found that there was a need for security in the sector.”

Athabasca Basin Security began with a small team performing basic security tasks like opening and closing the gate and screening the people who were on site to ensure there were no unauthorized persons. In time the company expanded, though this growth was gradual since the industry was not yet expanding rapidly.

The company began to grow substantially after three years of operations, as business picked up and Athabasca Basin Security extended its services further north. The team started to work with a large name in uranium mining. The company maintained these successful operations without further growth until about three years ago. This is around the time that Mr. Hyggen joined the Athabasca team.

Looking to expand even more, the leaders of Athabasca Basin Security searched outside the local region to southern Saskatchewan. The company was an attractive choice for large mining operators, with its experience and demonstrated track record. Shortly after the company began its search in the south of the province, a contract was signed with another large mining operation.

“It expanded the scope of what we were doing,” says Mr. Hyggen. “We definitely weren’t just opening and closing the gate anymore. This company had a different type of mine; it was a potash mine, their volumes are much higher there are thousands of people coming and going at all times. The level of service had to be bumped up very quickly.”

Athabasca Basin Security has refined its services to ensure it meets the needs of each specific operation. Employees working in the southern mining operation, for example, are qualified to deal with medical emergencies as well as everyday security. They can provide emergency support until airlifts or paramedics are on site. The security personnel are also qualified to drive an emergency vehicle, very similar to an ambulance. Some of the employees have been training to the paramedic level.

When Mr. Hyggen joined the company, one of his objectives was to assess its goals and find more effective and efficient ways of reaching them. The company expanded its search for contracts to a national level, rather than just within the province. “At that time, our biggest [competition] would be a company just like us that was able to work nationally,” Mr. Hyggen explains. “Instead of waiting for another company to do that we just decided to be that company, and stop the competition before it started to grow beyond us.”

Today the business has around ten industrial clients in different provinces, covering the mining sector, energy sector and oil and gas. Athabasca Basin Security works 24/7 to keep the premises secure and the employees safe. Safety and security are critical in these sectors – and the Athabasca team takes its work seriously. “It’s a long term commitment, it’s a 24/7 job; it’s not just sitting there and watching people walk by,” Mr. Hyggen adds. “It’s very much customer service based.”

Not only does the company monitor people as they enter and leave industrial sites, it also makes use of digital control systems. Using a device called The Pipe, employees can be monitored at all times so that everyone is accountable and any situation can be closely monitored. The company has acquired GPS tracking systems to track the location of its vehicles. These GPS units can monitor the speed, acceleration, stopping and even the idling – for environmental purposes – of working vehicles.

“At any moment in time I can go onto my computer, access our system for vehicle tracking and see each unit as it moves around no matter where it is on the globe,” Mr. Hyggen says. “It’s a huge advancement on the safety aspect of that so working along is no longer such an issue… It’s so sophisticated that it will even send us an email when the employee gets back to their home base.”

This GPS tracking system can be offered as an optional package to the client, and the system is now mandatory for all of the Athabasca Basin Security owned vehicles as part of the company’s overall safety program. Athabasca Basin Security now also makes use of access control technology, which can help companies track personnel through card access systems. This technology makes it easier to track who is and is not on site. Mr. Hyggen notes that this system has been very successful among clients.

The company is continuously undertaking research, keeping its sight set on new technologies that can improve efficiencies. This research is important to ensure that only the highest quality and most effective systems are used by the company. Athabasca Basin Security makes it its mission to find the best and to use it well, which includes comprehensive staff training.

Fundamentally, Athabasca Basin Security searches out the best technologies that will assist in implementing what clients want to see in their operations. The company’s proven capacity to provide security services allows workers to feel safe where they are, knowing that there is always someone else looking out for them. The Athabasca Basin Security team has ongoing meetings with all clients, to maintain communication and ensure that all needs are being met.

As Mr. Hyggen succinctly explains, “It’s not about constantly looking for things to help ourselves; it’s about finding out what we can do to help the client.”

September 23, 2017, 5:53 PM EDT

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