We Need to Take a New Look at How We Build Mines


Lee Weitzel, Cementation Canada Inc.

We hear about mining in the news frequently but unfortunately it is usually the bad news about mining that everyone hears about; tailings dam failures, mining labour strife, falls of ground, environmental impacts, and so on. We rarely hear the good news mining stories. The author believes we need to make some good news mining stories. One way to improve the industry’s image would be to respond directly, through good project design, to the concerns of key stakeholders early in the project design. We can do this by designing mining projects holistically, right at the beginning of a project’s conception, taking all critical aspects into account. One of the best ways to accomplish that would be through a design-build process. For example, the process required to hire & train indigenous people as part of the construction plan can now be part of the initial mine design. This interaction would allow symbiotic agreements with the indigenous groups to be in place earlier in the mine building process. Indigenous traditional knowledge could be added to the initial design concept which would improve the design as well as help shorten permitting times. The final design would be under scrutiny of knowledgeable mine builders so would lessen any last minute design changes and also the “stop and put in a change order” requests. The construction experience and in-the-field knowledge of a design-build team enables the project build to be done seamlessly, right the first time, with both a realistic plan & schedule. With this approach we can hopefully improve the general image of the mining industry, one project at a time, by making the right choices early in mine design.