Richmond, BC, Canada, October 2019 – Relief accommodation for a mine expansion in northeastern Labrador was urgently needed. With land camps at maximum capacity, no road access to the site, and the only means of re-provisioning by air or sea, the solution needed to be capable of self-sufficiency for the duration of the project, operating in some of the harshest weather conditions in Northern Canada. Bridgemans’ floatel, the MV Bluefort offered an optimal solution due to its speed of mobilization, high capacity storage and rapid scalability to suit any project manning curve.

The Bluefort arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland in less than two weeks. While in port the vessel was stocked with all provisions, utilizing the large car deck to store shipping containers full of supplies. After a three day voyage through iceberg fields, Bridgemans’ engineering team developed a mooring plan to position the vessel in a location where a traditional pier was not located.

Working with local service partners, Bridgemans provided temporary floating accommodations to workers at the mining site for the duration of the four-month contract.

About Voisey’s Bay project:
(Source: CBC News – posted Aug 28, 2019)
The quest to mine nickel from beneath the ground at Voisey’s Bay in Labrador is picking up steam with more than 430 workers on site. Joao Zanon, the project director for Vale, said the team ran into challenges in the early stages of the project during the harsh northern Labrador winter. Once the snow melted and summer arrived, the project ramped up. A little over 10 per cent of the underground development is now complete, with a goal to be operational in the first half of 2020.

“We’ve picked up the development quite a lot in the past months and the speed will continue to increase as we … are able to mobilize more people to work underground,” Zanon said.

A nickel deposit was discovered at Voisey’s Bay, just south of Nain, in 1993. It wasn’t until 2005 that surface mining got underway. Last year, Premier Dwight Ball announced the mine would be going underground to extend its life. CBC News reported soon after that Vale helped finance the $1.7-billion expansion by selling future production of cobalt, which will be a byproduct of the mine and a metal used for electric-vehicle batteries.

Zanon said there’s no guarantee on how long the mine will last, but said the potential is huge now that operations have moved below ground.

“Once you are down there it opens a whole new set of opportunities because it’s a lot easier to find new ore deposits. The chance that Voisey’s Bay will be there for decades to come is real.”

Expansion includes new living quarters
Crews are constructing three tunnels beneath the earth. One will be two kilometres long, while the others will be three kilometres. All three tunnels are currently about 800 metres each, five metres wide by five metres high. Once operations begin, the mine extension will employ about 250 people.

Vale is a Brazilian mining giant and operates mines across Canada, including Voisey’s Bay.

While many people are working below ground right now, there are also crews working above ground to build a new camp with 200 beds. Until that is finished, 100 Vale workers are staying on a floating hotel in the bay.

“The ‘floatel’ was an idea we had when we were trying to assess what was the best way to deal with the increase in workforce while we were still building the new dormitories,” Zanon said.

The company considered several different options for accommodating workers, including flying them in and out of the work site each day. Most of the options created more risk than benefit, so they opted for a floating residence instead.

The two-kilometre tunnel is expected to be complete by next year, while the other two are on track to be finished by 2022.

 

About the MV Bluefort:
The completely refurbished 142 metre MV Bluefort, is one of the most efficient and versatile floatel solutions available in today’s marketplace. Featuring 210 single cabins, rapid occupant scalability, exceptional fuel efficiency and high-capacity storage facilities, the Bluefort has the capability to provide extended periods of uninterrupted service to provide premium level accommodations, hotel and catering services at any inshore or offshore location.

The MV Bluefort is equipped with a CTV boat landing, helicopter pad, large dry-storage and covered deck space for containers, walk-in freezers, a fitness centre, medical treatment and hospital facilities, management offices, meeting rooms and a 200-seat briefing theatre.