Can you introduce SNC-Lavalin and explain how the company entered the Nevada market?
PS: SNC-Lavalin’s Mining and Metallurgy group works across five key markets – Canada, US, Québec, Peru, and Brazil. The type of projects we undertake range from small studies through to full EPCM projects. We are very active in plant engineering and assisting clients with upgrades and expansions of their existing facilities across North America. In addition, our specialized Sustainable Mining Group works on projects related to tailings management, water treatment and mine reclamation. We also perform a significant amount of front-end study work to help clients develop projects.
The mining industry in Nevada has seen tremendous growth, most notably in commodities such as gold and silver. We currently have two ongoing projects in the region – the Rochester POA11 project for Coeur Mining and the Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project for ioneer. Nevada is an important region for us, and we aim to continuously expand our business within the state and throughout the southwest.
Can you elaborate on SNC-Lavalin’s role at the Rochester POA11 project?
RD: We started working on the Rochester POA11 project in 2019 when we were awarded a gap analysis mandate. The gap analysis integrated the engineering performed by the various appointed service providers under one set of specifications, procurement policies, standards, systems, and procedures. In Q2 2019, we started with detailed engineering. One of our key strategies was to substantially complete engineering and award all equipment packages prior to starting construction. Early construction began in August 2020, and we were awarded a full EPCM contract two months later. Today, construction continues at the site with heavy earthworks and concrete activities.
Another key strategy for us on this project was to engage local vendors and service providers.
How did the pandemic impact SNC-Lavalin’s operations?
PS: Most of the engineering work for the Rochester POA11 project was performed during the pandemic and we had to quickly adapt to working remotely as of March 2020. I am proud to say that our team adjusted very well, performing the engineering on schedule and on budget. Our 3D integrated engineering platform, SmartPlant, offers a live environment to work in, whether in the office or at home. Everyone has real-time access to engineering progress and can interact in a live 3D model with various engineering disciplines, making it easy for us to adapt to a remote working environment. We also had daily virtual meetings with staff and teams to check that everything was progressing according to our engineering schedule.
RD: In the past, when we ordered equipment, we would send our engineers to the vendors’ factories and shops to inspect equipment. This was not possible during the pandemic due to mobility restrictions, but we mitigated this challenge with Go Pro cameras where the vendor would video-record the equipment for us, and we could perform virtual inspections. Many of our vendors have set up virtual platforms for inspections and testing, which is a great advantage because more of our engineers can participate instead of only one engineer being sent to the factory.
SNC-Lavalin was recently awarded an engineering and design contract for the sulfuric acid plant at ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge boron-lithium project. Can you tell us about this project?
PS: The sulfuric acid plant SNC-Lavalin is designing for ioneer is based on industry leading MECS sulphuric acid plant technology from DuPont Clean Technologies, with whom we have a long working relationship. This project will be one of the largest producers of lithium in the US; a resource that is extremely important to the battery market. We are providing engineering and procurement services for a 3,500 mt/d sulphuric acid plant that provides acid for the vat leaching process. We are proud to be supporting ioneer on this project and to be implementing a world- class sulphuric acid plant that focuses on long-term sustainability.
What is SNC-Lavalin’s growth strategy in the US?
PS: The market has great areas of growth opportunities in a variety of commodities, specifically those that support the EV battery market. We are also becoming increasingly involved in projects that include emission reduction and recyclable material feeds; we can help our clients reach their environmental and sustainability goals.