PCL was contracted in 2005 to install the Fresh Air Raises (FAR) at Ekati’s Koala and Panda mines, 300 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The BHP Koala FAR #1 and Panda FAR #3 projects were part of the mine’s expansion from open pit to underground operations. The project involved the installation of a heater module as well as fan and ducting to provide heated fresh air to the underground operations at each of the two open pit mines. The scope included mechanical equipment, interconnecting piping installations, mechanical insulation, electrical and instrumentation.
The project’s location and remoteness lead to material handling and receiving challenges. All materials came in on winter roads, which could have meant delays in receiving, especially considering the receiving system itself needed to be updated. PCL found, tagged and mapped all material required to complete the project in the laydown area, leading to overall cost savings and meeting scheduled milestones. The success of the projects led to Ekati contacting PCL over a decade later to disconnect the existing equipment at Koala and Panda and to reinstall it at their new development, Misery Underground (MUG).
The MUG Fresh Air Raise scope of work consisted of relocating the Fresh Air Raise (FAR) units from the Koala and Panda Mine to the Misery Underground Mine. This work included dismantling, transporting, and reassembling the unit; forming and pouring new foundations; and installing electrical, instrumentation, and piping. As an additional scope to the FAR, PCL was awarded the underground decommissioning of Koala, Panda and Koala North mines, which included removing all electrical infrastructure and hazardous materials (hydrocarbons, chemicals, and batteries) from the underground mine prior to closure and flooding.
PCL was able to bring back the same superintendent who installed the FARs in 2005 to reinstall them over a decade later, a significant advantage. The project was not without its challenges. The lack of construction drawings of the FAR at Panda meant that after taking apart the unit, the team would have no direction on how to put it back together at the new site. As a result, PCL's tradespeople created new drawings complete with markings of all steel and mechanical equipment to make reassembly easier and more cost efficient. PCL's tradespeople all worked together on the construction, which meant less hiring, less travel and lower costs to Ekati and a successful project.