Cementation Canada: A New Way of Building Mines
Cementation is an underground mine contracting and engineering company that provides an extensive array of services for clients throughout North and South America. Based in Ontario, Canada, the company has a unique structure, one that is well suited for technically challenging projects.
“We set out to do something different,” says President of Cementation, Roy Slack. “We wanted to change the way mine contracting is carried out.”
The company started by focusing on three key aspects: safety, relationships and the way it implements contracting.
“We wanted this to be an industry with zero harm so we aligned our vision to focus on safety,” says Slack. “Secondly, we wanted to restructure the relationship between us and the clients and avoid adversarial relationships. We really try and understand what the client wants from a project standpoint and we align ourselves with these goals. Lastly, we wanted to change the way contracting is done by providing a true design-build service for Clients. Traditionally, different groups would work on different stages of a project; we wanted to establish both continuity and one point accountability through a strong engineering service within our contracting group. These are the changes we wanted to make.”
Above all else, Cementation is committed to safety. The company recognizes that a safe contractor is more attractive to both employees and clients and this aligns with the company’s goal of being both an employer and contractor of choice.
“We wanted to be the employer of choice and we’ve worked extremely hard at that,” says Slack. “We wanted to align employee goals with corporate goals in order to help our people succeed. We have a strong training program in and out of office. We believe safety is the right way to work and we believe in treating employees with respect. If benefits come from that, good, but we look at it as simply the right way to work.”
To maintain the highest level of safety, the company has implemented training programs developed from its internal corporate values as well as legislated requirements specific to the jurisdictions they work in. Cementation has also developed a risk management protocol.
“We’ve developed a system for hazard recognition. The people in our group have a lot of long-term experience and they’ve the ability to recognize hazards,” says Slack. “We wanted to implement that insight into this program.”
The program is structured to have project managers coach their teams on safety precautions and provide insight for recognizing potential hazards. The goal is to establish and support a culture of safety.
“In safety, we talk about structure and culture. Safety culture is the mindset of the people: the attitude, the respect and the ability to work together,” says Slack.
“Structure is also very important; if it is missing you’re in trouble. Structure includes a strong orientation program, ongoing training and evaluation, along with hazard recognition and detailed work procedures.”
Relationships are the lifeblood for contractors. They play a vital piece in keeping clients up-to-date with progress and changes in projects as well as occurring repeat business. With that being said, Cementation is focused on maintaining and growing its relationship with clients as well as employees.
Along with building quality client and vendor relationships, the company strives to maintain solid employee relationships. Cementation has implemented a wide array of programs for helping employees succeed. In Canada, the company has developed and utilized a leadership development program for employees. For this program the company utilizes the Harvard Manager Mentor program for leadership development, a unique e-learning platform that gives employees an opportunity to receive customized programs geared at their specific training requirements.
“It’s a computer based training program, but then we establish various forums where the trainees can get together to review and discuss the content,” says Slack.
“Another aspect of the program is Lunch & Learns, where we bring in different departments to present on what they do – it’s sort of like an internal cross-training program. We want everyone to understand what each department is involved in.”
Slack adds, “The training program was developed with our employees and supervisors in mind. We enlisted a number of people in the program with a set number of courses to help them develop the skills required to succeed.”
Along with nurturing quality relationships, Cementation is focused on cultivating meaningful partnerships. The company has developed numerous Aboriginal partnerships across the Canadian landscape to support and develop the Northern communities that those partners live in.
Recognized as a “partner of choice” for First Nations and Inuit groups, the company has created opportunities for Aboriginal groups by creating jobs, training and resources to succeed.
According to Slack, the ‘New Miner’ program was implemented nine years ago in an effort to introduce new people into the industry, including the First Nations partners.
“The program is an excellent tool for extensive training. It includes roughly three months of classroom indoctrination and nine months working on site. Participants are paid the entire time and they’re expected to treat the training as a job, which it is. We’ve had nothing but success with the program.”
By staying true to its vision and goals, Cementation has become the mining contractor of choice for both clients and employees. By achieving excellence in safety, performance beyond expectations and quality long-term relationships, the company has provided the mining industry with a different approach to the way mine contracting can be carried out.
Copper, iron ore surge as Chinese investors unleash demand
The reopening of major industrial economies is sparking a surge across commodities markets from corn to lumber, with tin climbing above $30,000 a tonne for the first time since 2011 on Thursday.
In the wake of mounting evidence of inflation fuelled by higher raw materials prices, investors are also increasingly focused on when the U.S. Federal Reserve might start throttling back its emergency support.
Many banks say the rally has further to run, particularly for copper, which will benefit from rising investment in new energy sectors. Copper is at the highest in a decade, fueling bets it will rally further to take out the record set in February 2011. Steel demand is surging as economies chart a path back to growth just as the world’s biggest miners have been hampered by operational issues, tightening ore supply.
“The long-term prospects for metals prices are ‘too good’ and point to higher prices in the next few years,” said Commerzbank AG analyst Daniel Briesemann. “The decarbonization trends in many countries, which include switching to electric vehicles and expanding wind and solar power, are likely to generate additional demand for metals.”
Trading house Trafigura Group and several major Wall Street banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. expect copper to extend gains.
Copper rose as much as 1.6% to $10,108.50 a ton on the London Metal Exchange before trading at $10,080 as of 4:07 p.m. in London.
Benchmark spot iron ore prices rose to a record, while futures in Singapore and China climbed.
The boom comes as China’s steelmakers keep output rates above 1 billion tons a year, despite a swath of production curbs aimed at reducing carbon emissions and reining in supply. Instead, those measures have boosted steel prices and profitability at mills, allowing them to better accommodate higher iron ore costs.
Spot iron ore with 62% content hit $201.15 a ton on Thursday, according to Mysteel. Futures in Singapore jumped as much as 5.1% to $196.40 a ton, the highest since contracts were launched in 2013. In Dalian, prices closed 8.8% higher.
Erik Hedborg, Principal Analyst, Steel at CRU Group commented: “Recent production cuts in Tangshan have boosted demand for higher-quality ore and prompted mills to build iron ore inventories as their margins are on the rise. Iron ore producers are enjoying exceptionally high margins as well, around two thirds of seaborne supply only require prices of $50 /dmt to break even.”
Still, some analysts including Commerzbank’s Briesemann expect a short-term correction as metals become detached from fundamentals. There’s also a risk that China could engage in policies that may cool demand for iron ore and copper.
The metals rally has boosted concerns about short-term Chinese demand. Some manufacturers and end-users have been slowing production or pushing back delivery times after costs surged, while weaker-than-expected domestic consumption has opened the arbitrage window for exports.
Tin climbed as much as 2% to $30,280 a ton on the LME, boosted by rising orders for the soldering metal. Tin is at the highest since May 2011, with a 48% gain this year making it the best performing metal on the LME.