April 26, 2012

FEATURE | Demolition

The former Xstrata Copper Canada Kidd metallurgical site near Timmins, Ontario was offered for sale to potential buyers who might continue to use it as an industrial facility, but when no takers could be found, its assets were offered up to demolition contractors. Delsan-AIM Environmental Services Inc. was the successful bidder.


A controlled drop of the open hearth building at the former Xstrata copper and zinc metallurgical plants near Timmins, Ont.

Delsan-AIM takes down former Xstrata copper ore processing plant near Timmins, Ontario

Xstrata Copper Canada permanently ceased operation of its copper and zinc metallurgical plants in May 2010. Located about an hour’s drive from Timmins,Ontario, the Kidd metallurgical site — Kidd Met for short — processed ore from the massive Kidd copper and zinc mine a few miles away. While the Kidd mine continues to operate, smelting activity was moved to the company’s other facilities as part of an efficiency drive. The plant was offered for sale to potential buyers who might continue to use it as an industrial facility, but when no takers could be found, its assets were offered up to demolition contractors.

Delsan-AIM Environmental Services Inc. was the successful bidder for the site’s assets, including a copper smelter and refinery, a zinc plant, a cadmium plant, an indium plant and a sulphuric acid plant. The demolition contract also included the site’s support buildings.

The site features 12 major buildings and three large stacks, with the tallest stack, known as “A” stack, reaching 344 feet into the air.

“Work on the Kidd Met site began in January 2011,” says Karim El-Khatib, general manager of operations with Delsan-AIM. “It’s a large-scale job with approximately 20 excavators and an average of 50 workers on the site at any given time.”

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El-Khatib says that the challenges of the job include demolishing a wide range of materials over a broad area within a constrained time frame. Almost 90 per cent of the material has been reclaimed, but many of the materials need to be transported to particular locations for processing or recycling.

“The range of construction materials on the buildings includes carbon steel, copper, stainless steel, zinc and other nonferrous metals,” he says. “Stainless steel, for example, needs to be prepped at a particular location before it’s re-used and sold, so proper handling and segregation of the materials and the logistics of shipping it out were challenging.”

Though located in a remote area, the site was already served by rail, so some of the material was shipped out by train while the rest of the material was removed in trucks.

Concrete was crushed and kept on site as potential backfill.

While the smelter had been shut down, the concentrator on the site remained in operation during the demolition as it continued to serve the Kidd mine.

Some of the larger equipment being salvaged from the site for its metal content includes furnaces, roasters, boilers, tanks and motors. While Delsan-AIM performs asset recovery in some cases, much of the equipment, such as smelters and boilers, are so massive in scale that moving them to another location wouldn’t have been economically viable.

“The demolition required no explosives,” notes El-Khatib. “We specialize in engineered drops which involve strategically cutting supports and taking down each structure.”

The Kidd operation has two unusual distinctions. The Kid Met site was once home to 60 plains bison maintained at a 300-acre buffalo ranch established by Falconbridge, the site’s previous owner, as an experiment in ecology and environmental stewardship. At more than 9,100 feet in depth, the Kidd mine is the world’s deepest base metal mine, making it the closest accessible point to the centre of the Earth. That record will be eclipsed with plans to excavate the site to 9,600 feet over the next five years.

The target for completion of the Kidd Met demolition is May 2012.

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