Partners picked
Nuna Logistics, Kiewit awarded Diavik contract

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 20/99) - Diavik Diamond Mines has awarded a major contract to Lac de Gras Constructors, Diavik Diamond Mines president Stephen Prest said Wednesday.

Lac de Gras Constructors is a partnership between Nuna Logistics and civil engineering firm Peter Kiewit Sons Co. Ltd.

Founded in 1949 and based in Edmonton, Peter Kiewit Sons Co. Ltd. is the Canadian unit of the Nebraska-headquartered Kiewit.

The contract involves site preparation at the proposed Diavik diamond mine.

Road work, airstrip construction, building of sediment and containment ponds, rock excavation for foundations and temporary fuel site work are among the earthworks requirements.

Nuna, which opened an office in Yellowknife about four months ago, is majority owned by Inuit economic development organizations.

Nunasi Corp. owns 26 per cent of Nuna while the Kitikmeot Inuit Association owns 25 per cent.

The remaining 49 per cent of Nuna is owned by British Columbia-based Pilot Shipping. Pilot Shipping is owned by John Zigarlick and the management of Nuna Logistics.

Zigarlick has several years of mining experience in the North. He is a past president of Echo Bay Mines. His father was mine manager at Port Radium, and his is brother is currently general mine foreman at Cominco's Red Dog Mine in Alaska.

Nuna was also associated with pre-stripping and ice-core dam work at BHP Diamonds' Ekati mine.

Nuna, set up six years ago, is also contracted by Echo Bay Mines to build the winter road which stretches to Echo Bay's Lupin gold mine. Nuna Logistics' president and chief operating officer is Mervyn Hempenstall.

Kiewit, owned by its employees, built the Hibernia oil platform. That contract was worth $1.2 billion.

Lac de Gras Constructors project manager Val Ricci said Thursday this will be the company's first project in the NWT, but he expects conditions will be similar to those faced in Nunavik where Kiewit was associated with construction of Raglan's nickel mine.

Kiewit has several partnerships with aboriginal groups, he adds.

NWT Rock Services, Sub-arctic Surveys, A&A Technical Services and Nahanni Construction, all Yellowknife-based, are also involved with the earthworks contract, Diavik said.

This tender is part of the first batch of Diavik contracts to be awarded for work planned for the year 2000. Year 2000 contracts awarded so far are worth a total of about $90 million.

Prest said about $10 million more are still to be concluded.

Mine construction hinges on permit and licence approvals as well as investor approval in time to use the winter ice road.

In all, Prest estimates about 70 per cent of the contracts for the year 2000 construction season are with Northern companies.

"We're hopeful we can maintain this pace," he said.

In 2001, contracts worth between $250 million and $300 million will be awarded, he adds.

Recently, Diavik Diamond Mines announced its first contract associated with the building of the proposed mine at Lac de Gras would got to NorTerra company Northern Transportation Co. Ltd.

NTCL was awarded a $1.9-million contract for fabrication of 23 480,000-litre steel fuel storage tanks. NorTerra is equally owned by the Inuvialuit Development Corp. and Nunasi Corp. The fuel tanks will be constructed at NTCL's Hay River site.

A joint-venture of the Yellowknives Dene and an Alberta-based remote climate specialist company was awarded the Diavik camp construction contract.

The $4.6-million contract has been awarded to Ndilo-based Ek'Ati Services Ltd.

Ek'Ati Services is a joint venture set up by Deton'Cho Investments North Ltd., which represents the communities of Ndilo and Dettah, and Edmonton-based private company PTI Group.

Ek'Ati Services will supply labour, materials and equipment for a 400-person construction camp at Lac de Gras. The project includes dorms, cooking and medical facilities, a sewage treatment plant and camp generators.