Published on September 20th, 2017 | by UC&D Magazine0
Smelter Shutdown a Boon to Contractors
Kennecott brought in more than 1,700 construction workers from 70-plus companies earlier this year for planned maintenance and projects over a hectic 26-day period.
Local construction firms working in the mining/industrial field benefitted from Kennecott Utah Copper’s (KUC) planned shutdown of its smelter over a 26-day stretch during the second quarter of this year, its first shutdown in three years, according to Bob Stanford, Manager, Projects for Kennecott, a division of Rio Tinto Group.
Stanford said KUC brought in over 1,700 individuals from 74 contractor firms – 20% of which were local. Many of these companies travel the world working on complex industrial mining/chemical processing systems, and collectively they completed 125 projects – 122 of which were planned, with three others that were discovered during the process.
“We hire a whole range of contractors that serve the chemical process and mining industries,” said Stanford. “They run the whole range…heavy commercial structural work, non-destructive examination and testing, welding, civil contracting (earthwork). Most are from the U.S., a lot are specialized contractors from the Southeast/Gulf Coast region.”
Because the smelter shutdown affects all related KUC operations, all sections along the 20-plus-mile corridor along the base of the Oquirrh Mountains underwent maintenance and renovations, making for one busy four-week stretch.
“You got that right,” Stanford exclaimed when asked if this is the busiest single period of time during Kennecott’s yearlong operations. “We had crews working around the clock, 24-7, to make it happen. We had to bring in extra relief crews to relieve people so they’re not working 14-hour days for 26 straight days.”
“Even at the (general manager) level they’re working rotating shifts and working at night so there is always leadership for these critical projects,”
added Kyle Bennett, Principal Advisor, Communications.
“A lot of time is spent refurbishing items that have worn out over the last year,” said Steve Saltas, Principal Advisor, Control Systems. “In the case of the copper liner project, it’s about every four years.”
“All these sites are linked – it’s a value chain,” Stanford said. “When the smelter goes down we’re not producing copper anymore, so the rest of the site takes advantage of the shutdown for planned maintenance and large capitol projects.”
He also emphasized KUC’s safety program and the rigorous amount of time poured into every possible detail. Nothing is taken for granted, nothing left to chance when dealing with so many people in a condensed time frame.
“Safety programs come and go – maybe you get a t-shirt or a gift bag,” said Stanford. “Our program has teeth. It has good energy behind it. We look at every critical risk and publish it so we can keep people safe. Our contractors have to be trained; they have a checklist for critical risk, things people from around the world at Rio Tinto have studied, hazards that have presented themselves. It’s done in a friendly, team approach. We’re there to help them understand what is important.”