PCL’s first project with Glencore began in June 2019 to help with the civil scope of the Process Gas Project. Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations (Sudbury INO), which had been mining for nickel and precious metals in the Sudbury area for almost a century, decided to make major improvements and upgrades to their smelter facilities. PCL’s scope was a small part of the larger $288 million Process Gas project that was designed to significantly reduce sulfur dioxide, nickel, and cadmium emissions. PCL was pleased to achieve and surpass all expectations by bringing a culture of safety, leadership, ownership, and value engineering to Sudbury INO.

The company self-performed the cast-in-place foundations for three structural pre-engineered steel buildings, stack foundations, a trailer unloading ramp, a rail car unloading ramp with suspended slab, and a structural tie-in to an existing building. PCL managed the subcontracted work, which included site grading and drainage, shoring systems, site services, a railway system connected to an existing rail yard, structural steel, and miscellaneous metals. The project followed a detailed quality control program.

As a newcomer to the site and client, PCL embraced the challenge of learning Sudbury INO’s protocols and procedures as well as getting to know the site. Winter conditions arrived early and affected the concrete pouring. The team had to get the groundwork ready by pouring 1,400 cubic meters of concrete for the new facility, which included a new 768-meter rail line, baghouse building, and storm drainage system installation.

“The mining company was aware of PCL, and that we were an international company, but what set us apart from the others – and secured us more work – is that our safety program and policies matched theirs,” said Paul Kamerads, superintendent of major projects for PCL’s Northern Ontario office. “Once we were on site, we supervised our own trades, whereas Glencore was accustomed to managing all contractors and trades. We took ownership, and that’s how we earned their respect and trust.”

On any industrial project, such as Glencore’s Sudbury INO mining operation, the subgrade conditions can be unpredictable. Whenever the job required removing existing infrastructure or leveling the ground for a concrete pour, a thorough analysis of soil conditions and a plan for where and how to move the material were required.

At the project site, existing poured slag and unexpected amounts of unsuitable substrate materials were found, which led to a minor schedule delay as additional time was required for excavation. Furthermore, these materials posed a challenge during sheet pile.  

“Securing and disposing of the excavated material in pre-approved locations was another challenge for us on this project, and our other projects,” said Kamerads. “One of my biggest takeaways from working at Glencore is that you have a team environment working with you. There are always technical and coordination challenges, but the whole process – from consultation to handover – was very collaborative. I’d go back to work with this client over and over again.”

The PCL team was able to overcome the challenges above and complete the project successfully. In addition, the similarities between the systems, processes, and work ethic of both companies created a great team dynamic that set the basis for a lasting partnership.  

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