Working in the heart of Nunavut, Nahanni Construction showed its cold weather expertise by doing mine foundation and structural concrete work at the Meadowbanks Gold Mine in Baker Lake.

The Challenges

From the very start, the Nahanni team had their work cut out for them on this project. The project was already six months behind when our workers arrived on site, and the client was eager to get things back on track.

Already behind schedule, our team needed to deal with the logistical challenges of getting workers, equipment, and supplies to Baker Lake – the only inland community on Hudson Bay, positioned amidst some of Canada’s most remote and geographically challenging terrain.

They would also have to endure the severe conditions of winter in Nunavut, with its relentless winds, 24 hours of darkness, and the kinds of extreme temperatures that not only affect workers, but also create challenges for producing, recovering, and storing concrete aggregate for use in varying seasons.

How We Helped

From the first day on site, Nahanni focused on getting the project back on track by working with the Meadowbank team to make changes to the construction plans that would allow other trades to get an early start on their work.

With winter freeze up conditions looming, meeting the barge on time was a high priority. All equipment and supplies for the project were shipped by barge and brought 110 km by all-weather road to the site. Operating without finalized construction plans, Nahanni had straight bundles of 18 m rebar shipped to the mine, and built a fabrication shop on site to bend the rebar as needed for construction. With the length of Nunavut winters, there was no time to spare and crews had to work through the winter months. Nahanni stepped up the job and completed the primary crusher and reclaim tunnel concrete work in the winter months.

In total, Nahanni laid over 35,000 cubic m of concrete in just 25 months. At one point, our team was required to do a final pour of 300 cubic m of concrete on the primary crusher foundation at 65′ high while exposed to the elements in near 24 hour darkness with temperatures hovering at a balmy -35 degrees Celsius. Despite these challenging conditions, Nahanni completed this project on time with an unmatched safety record.

Interesting Facts

  • Nahanni had an exemplary safety record throughout the project.
  • Nahanni had the least amount of first aid calls, despite being the biggest contractor on site.
  • Nahanni had six weeks to mobilize once awarded the contract and no major components were missed.
  • Nahanni was the only hard dollar job contractor to work at Meadowbank.
  • Everything except rolling equipment was shipped to site in sea cans.
  • Our workers were the only people to volunteer to live in wall tents in the exploration camp during the winter months, when temperatures reached as low as -50 degrees Celsius.