"Ontario has one of the highest densities of expertise in underground mining out of any of the jurisdictions we work in."
What were some milestones achieved by Cementation in 2022?
In 2022, we achieved record levels of revenue and record levels of employment due to the increased demand for our services. We have been fortunate to work with some tier-one clients in Ontario that have stayed committed to sustaining their capital projects.
Which technology is Cementation finding to be most impactful for its business?
We are currently partnering with a client to test the use of battery electric equipment, and as the technology evolves, we will transition our fleet of mobile equipment from diesel powered to battery electric.
One of our core competencies is shaft sinking. Depending on orebody depth and size, constructing a hoisting shaft is a bit more capital-intensive up front versus using diesel trucks to haul ore to surface, but over time, less energy is required for hoist haulage and it carries a lower carbon footprint. Using a shaft or other haulage solution that relies on electricity can be greatly beneficial to our clients in the long run.
Today, data has significant value and is becoming a commodity. Cementation has been working with software providers to enable us to obtain instantaneous information, analyze the information, and make better decisions on safety, operating efficiency and continuous improvement.
What advice would you give to clients on how to mitigate key risks?
A unique risk to underground projects is that excavations are made in natural rock, which can have a lot of variability (unlike concrete, steel and other building materials). Cementation has a wealth of experience in overcoming challenging geotechnical conditions, and we work with our clients to proactively identify and mitigate these risks.
Another unique challenge to underground projects are the logistical constraints. There is limited access to the work face, and limited space to work in. It is very difficult to add resources to speed up the work. As a result, the work is very linear, and if schedule time is lost, it is difficult to make it up. Cementation has very robust management systems, including short interval control, which manages the work at the face on a minute-by-minute basis to ensure that the work is progressing to schedule, and any delays are quickly identified and managed.
There is the temptation to “goal seek” a project budget to align with pre-determined finance limitations. However, this leads companies and contractors to leverage themselves on committing to project budgets and schedules that are difficult to achieve. The risks must be identified and understood, and contingencies made for those risks. Prior to a project commencing, Cementation works with our clients to identify potential risks and mitigations. Once the project has started, we transparently manage our project performance and partner with our clients to quickly identify and mitigate risk events as they occur.
What makes Ontario an advantageous location to develop a mine?
Ontario has one of the highest densities of expertise in underground mining out of any of the jurisdictions we work in. Mining is very well entrenched in Ontario, and there is a realistic understanding of the mining industry’s role in supplying minerals that are needed for the development of society. Government and industry are working together to ensure that mining is done in a safe and responsible manner.
Mines are becoming more complicated and going deeper underground. How does Cementation’s capacity fit well with this trend?
We are currently sinking one of the deepest shafts in the Sudbury Basin, and it is a great accomplishment because there are rock stress, heat, and logistical challenges associated with getting people and materials to the work face. With our strong engineering team, as challenges come up, we can design solutions to ensure that we can continue the work safely and efficiently.
What is your long-term vision for Cementation in Ontario?
We want to be the mining service provider of choice. Globally and industry wide, there is currently a shortage of talent and expertise, and this is an opportunity for Cementation to provide our expertise and skilled workforce to mine owners. We aim to build longstanding relationships with our clients and support them with their projects along the entire value stream.