Aerial view of Goldcorp Eleonore Mine. Image: SNC-Lavalin.
From the October-November 2016 print edition, page 64.
Goldcorp’s Éléonore project comprises an underground gold mine, ore processing, and infrastructure in the James Bay Region of Northern Québec. SNC-Lavalin successfully provided engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) services for the surface facilities of this ambitious $2.3 billion project completed in 2014. The project presented significant schedule, location, climatic, environmental, and labour challenges. It also exemplifies successful collaboration with First Nations and local communities.
In this complex and multifaceted development, Goldcorp was responsible for the mine, while SNC-Lavalin implemented the ore processing facilities — crushing, ore storage, process plant, paste backfill plant, and tailings filtration.
SNC-Lavalin also provided the on-site infrastructure: a permanent camp with 400 rooms, gymnasium, laboratory, administration buildings, industrial water treatment plant, water and waste-water underground services, tailings management facilities, and on-site roads.
Ambitious first gold pour date
Major complexity stemmed from the challenge of developing and maintaining a workable schedule based on the ambitious “first gold pour” date.
The following steps helped the project succeed:
• Seasoned project management experts reviewed the challenging schedule to strategically select which infrastructure construction activities to postpone until after the first gold pour.
• A project definition assessment (Project Definition Rating Index – PDRI) was completed to identify potential gaps and actions to reduce project risk. Subsequently, SNC-Lavalin completed additional FEED (front-end engineering design) studies, including metallurgical testing, to bring the project to a level suitable for detail design.
• SNC-Lavalin provided ongoing and active deviation analysis (actual costs versus allocated budgets), forecast management, and tight risk monitoring and management.
• Project management, engineering, and construction management teams pursued flexible solutions, e.g. overlapping specific construction activities, and introducing night shifts for some disciplines.
Strike, forest fire, Arctic location
Further schedule challenges included two force-majeure events in 2013: a strike followed by a forest fire, which caused a six-week delay and pushed some civil and structural steel work into winter conditions.
Additional complexity factors were the remote location, the Arctic climate, constrained logistics, lack of infrastructure, extensive regulations, and the need to minimize environmental impacts.
Despite these challenges, construction and pre-operational verification (POV) were achieved within 36 months.
Tools and strategies for success
State-of-the-art tools helped SNC-Lavalin meet the challenges. The company’s experts developed a 3D process plant model to support engineering inter-disciplinary coordination, conflict resolution, bulk material reporting and control, and client design reviews. All teams collaborated on this single platform — working in parallel and using a single source of information.
The project involved managing over 110,000 documents, of which 45,000 were issued for coordination to over 850 different stakeholders. A single on-line project document management system (PDM) was used which was available 24/7.
The Éléonore Project remains one of the largest private projects developed under Quebec’s “Plan Nord” program and continues to generate major economic spinoffs for the local and regional communities. A Cree Inclusion Plan ensures Aboriginal stakeholders’ input and provides Cree workers with training. Members of the Nation Cree of Wemindji benefited during construction and now benefit from well remunerated employment.
Owner: Goldcorp — Éléonore
Award-winning firm SNC-Lavalin, Montreal (Martin
(engineering, Lachance, ing., Jean Fournier, ing.,
procurement, Guy Boily, ing., Robert Richard,
and construction Serge Therrien, Hagire Emrani, ing.,
management (EPCM)): Jean-Philippe Anctil, ing.)
Architects: Denis Boucher Benoit Lachance, TRAME Architecture + Paysage