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.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.