Construction of Dam for new Huckleberry tailings facility.

Construction of Dam for new Huckleberry tailings facility.

Huckleberry expansion on budget

Construction at Huckleberry, currently ahead of schedule and on budget, will go until the end of November before shutting down the winter.

The Huckleberry tailings expansion project is ahead of schedule and on budget.

Huckleberry contracted Arthon Belvedere joint venture for $30 million, to build a base for the main dam – 42 m tall, 175 m wide and 1.4 km long – which will form a new tailings pond two km east of the old one, said construction Project Manager John Allen.

Employing 200 people, Arthon Belvedere is working around the clock, housing workers at Sweeney Road camp two near Huckleberry and changing crews every ten days, getting as much as possible done before shutting down for the winter, probably by the end of November, Allen said.

Work started in mid-March, so they faced challenges with snow and water management, but worked with mine managers to deal with it and were not significantly delayed as a result, Allen says.

“We did think there would be some delays at the time, but fortunately as we worked through it, the project moved forward,” he said.

The dam, engineered by Amec Earth and Environmental Limited, will have the base finished by Arthon Belvedere by July 31, 2013, said Allen, adding that it will continue to be built up each year after that until 2019 when it reaches a height of 92 m.

Allen says Arthon Belvedere will also build four small dams to protect the environment and control water leakage from the main dam.

There are mechanics, engineers, first aid workers, and equipment operators employed at Huckleberry, and at least a quarter of them are local, including some workers displaced by the Burns Lake mill fire, Allen said.

Arthon Belvedere also made an agreement and employs some Cheslatta Carrier First Nation people, because it’s their traditional territory, said Allen.

“They’ve been a great partner to work with,” Allen said. “They’ve been very supportive of the project.”

Arthon Belvedere trained and then employed some people in operating equipment, hiring a few who had done training with the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BCAMTA).

“It’s actually been a great project to work on, we’ve really gelled as a team and the mine’s been very supportive of us, and vise versa,” said Allen, adding that with this summer’s weather and no severe accidents or incidents, the project is ahead of schedule and on budget.