“Cementation has a global footprint with a focus on design and build. Traditionally, we have done more of the project lifecycle than other contractors, and the company continues to expand its capabilities, service offerings and footprint through M&A.”
As market conditions have slowly improved, have you noticed an uptick in mining activity in Canada?
When the mining industry rebounded, we saw big capital projects that were on hold go online again. We also saw certain groups with high-grade portfolios attain funding. It seems like grade is what interests investors. The junior companies, even in the gold market, are still experiencing challenges. This is where the opportunity for mid-sized companies comes in. A junior with a medium grade gold deposit, even if it is an advanced project, may be struggling to attain capital. If there is a mid-sized group with cash, they can partner with the junior to move the project forward. The time has come where mid-sized companies and majors are working up the appetite for mergers and acquisitions.
What are some of the main projects Cementation has been involved in in Ontario in the last 12 months?
Onaping Depth, a Glencore project near Sudbury, is an iconic project for Cementation. We have been working on the engineering for the project off and on since 1998, and we are very pleased that the project has been approved and Cementation is Glencore’s shaft design-build contractor for the project.
We recently completed a very successful project for Compass Minerals at their Goderich Mine where we carried out the design and construction on new headframes and refurbishment of two of their shafts. The approach was innovative, helped to de-risk the project from both a cost and schedule perspective and was completed with no lost time injuries.
At Young Davidson we are extending the shaft. It is a design-build project and a very unique design utilizing a large diameter borehole as a production shaft.
Ontario was where we started in 1998, and although we have expanded our services and carry out work around the world, this area continues to be a strong market for us.
Has Cementation been involved in the Ring of Fire development to date?
We have also been working with Noront Resources over the years, looking at the underground design for their McFauld Lake project in the Ring of Fire mining development area in Northern Ontario. The challenges at the Ring of Fire are not necessarily mining related, but more related to infrastructure and social issues. The question about all-season access is not only about getting to the mine site, but also accessing a number of remote communities, which can result in positive benefits but may also create some challenges for communities.
The Ring of Fire project is a big dollar investment for Ontario. As a taxpayer, I want to ensure that the public benefits from the investment made by government. It is up to the mining industry and players working on the project to explain to the public how this project can benefit Ontario as a whole. Noront has a very forward thinking approach, and they are including the local communities in the project so that they can also have direct benefits.
As a third party contractor from a different area, how is Cementation received by First Nations communities?
You can do a lot of talking, but when it comes to partnerships, references are what really tells the story. I fully expect that our future partners will talk to our current partners. On mining projects, it is never a two-way partnership as there are always more than two parties involved. From the start it has to be at least a three-way partnership between the client, the service provider and the local communities. Cementation focuses on both providing positive financial and social benefits to our partners while at the same time enabling our clients to meet their commitments, which also benefits our partners. When we train people to help build the mine, we create jobs for the local community, and after we have finished our project scope, those employees are qualified to work for our clients on production.
Statistics from the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) indicate an increasing deficit of trained mine workers. How does Cementation deal with this challenge?
When one considers working on a remote project, it is first of all a lifestyle choice. We recognize that people are working remotely, and we want our workers to be fit for work, which means that they have to have the time off to recharge and retain a quality of life. It is important to us that our workforce is able to have a family life, and thus rotations are very important. For remote projects, we have had good staffing and good success in recruiting.
Mining equipment is increasingly becoming more autonomous. I believe that the workforce shortage in our industry will be technical in the areas to support the new technologies, whether that be IoT or autonomous equipment.
Can you give insight into Cementation’s acquisition of Terra Nova Technologies?
As the mining industry is starting to realize that solutions must be found with regard to tailings, the Terra Nova Technologies acquisition could not have come at a better time. Terra Nova Technologies is a materials handling company and they have been involved in many projects where safe handling of tailings was the focus. We as an industry need to find a solution and I believe that Terra Nova Technologies may be a big player within this space.
Cementation has a global footprint with a focus on design and build. Traditionally, we have done more of the project lifecycle than other contractors, and the company continues to expand its capabilities, service offerings and footprint through M&A.
What are Cementation’s objectives and strategy moving forward?
Capital projects in mining, and in industry in general, struggle to meet budget and schedule goals. Cementation is structured and continues to evolve to meet those challenges through early contractor involvement, and a wider range of integrated services. Cementation has always been focused on safety and understands that our clients are looking for safe work, engineering that adds value and a contractor willing to work with them together to meet budget and schedule challenges head on. As we extend our range of services within the project life cycle, we believe that there are additional benefits to having one integrated group providing a full range of project services for mining clients: better project budget and schedule forecasting through integrated teams, better identification and mitigation of risk on projects and all the other benefits that come from a design-built approach. We are a project based company and work to what we call our best for project philosophy, which helps align the efforts of contractor and owner. Our objective is to deliver successful projects for our clients, and our strategy is design-build solutions through a wider span of the project life cycle.