Just over a year after breaking ground, Cementation Canada officially opened its new North American Maintenance facility in North Bay today.
The underground mine contracting and engineering company invested more than $10 million in the project, with a $1 million contribution from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
"We had a shop facility in Thompson, Manitoba which was older, it wasn't up to standard, and quite honestly we were concerned for their safety there. So we decided to build a new shop, and then had to decide where to build it," explained Roy Slack, President of Cementation Canada.
Four or five years ago the company built a 10,000 square foot shop facility in North Bay, securing the rest of the property beside it.
"The fact that we had some property here was a factor for sure in locating to North Bay, also we liked it here. North Bay is a great town, and we have our office here. So it just made sense to expand and do our full shop facility here. There is a mining services labour pool here, that we're able to bring people into our company."
Twenty-five people work out of the facility.
"We've been gradually growing that group and some of them are transfers from our Manitoba shop. We had some great people there and we wanted to keep them. And then we've had some new hires recently. We will grow according to the market, that's the nature of our business. Right now we see the mining industry on the rebound so we're hopeful we'll continue to grow."
The work in this shop is for equipment based out of Canada and the United States.
"We refurbish our mining equipment, both development equipment, and shaft sinking equipment which includes hoists and winches as well as raise boring gear. Normally equipment is purchased new, taken to a project, and used for whatever the project duration is, from several months to several years. It comes back here, it's stored and then we refurbish it when we're ready to redeploy it on another project," explained Ryan Gough, Manager of Project Services.
Gough says having a larger facility enhances the companies ability to do more work.
"We've gone from 10,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. It allows us to be much less reliant on utilizing third-party resources to do the work for us," says Gough.
"We have better control, better quality, faster turnaround, and we're able to test it here. Behind the shop, we've got a rock face that allows us to test our drilling equipment. We have a pile of aggregate in the backyard which allows us to load our hauling equipment, really put the gear through its paces so when it gets to site, it's ready to work, there are no surprises for the people on site."
The company president says they are also looking at possibilities connected with the Ring of Fire.
Canadian-based mining company Noront Resources is one of its clients.
"We've done engineering for them on the Ring of Fire, and the plan is for us to do the underground work there when that work starts. That's probably a year or two away, but it's still important to be involved in the front end. The more input we have into the engineering, the better it is to build the mine. We're hopeful that things will start happening," says Slack.
The company has another reason to celebrate.
Just last week Cementation won gold in the Mining and Resources Category, handed out at the 2017 Canada's Safest Employers awards gala. The awards are presented each year by Canadian Occupational Safety recognizing health and safety excellence.
"I think you've seen today the emphasis we put on safety, and we do that all year round at every project. So that award, part of it is about your safety record, but a big part of it is about the culture, and the culture comes from them talking to our employees, like the guys on the shop floor, or the miners at the base, and really they're the ones that are dealing with the hazards," says Slack
Cementation will soon be celebrating its 20th anniversary.