went into ensuring that every piece of equipment and all the
materials required were onsite so that the team could be selfsufficient,”
The team used conventional tools for drilling, including
segmental casing, augers, core barrels and bailing buckets.
Upon hitting bedrock, a 7-bit hammer was used to create a
All holes were filled with grout made by HFDI. At the
onsite grout plant, the team mixed cement and bentonite as
well as a retarding admixture to create the final grout product.
After being pumped into a vacuum truck, the mixture was
transported to the dike for use. The crew used insulated
pump skids to transfer the grout from the truck and placed
the mixture using a tremie pipe in the pile.
Logistics of working in a remote location
HFDI was awarded the project in March 2018. However,
since barges can only travel when the ice is melted, the
team was left with a small window of three months to
prepare all the equipment and support loads. Specialized
containers were built for the mechanical, fabrication and
other support services.
Approximately 25 loads were dispatched on the long
journey to the work site. The mobilization started with a
cross-country trek from Vancouver, B.C., to Becancour Port,
Que., located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence
River, where the containers were loaded on a barge. The
barge travelled around Newfoundland and Labrador to the
mouth of the Baker River, where a mid-ocean transfer moved
everything from the ocean-going barge to the river barge. The
equipment and supplies were offloaded and trucked north on
a gravel road that extended from Baker Lake to the mine site
at Amaruq, situated 130 kilometres northwest of Baker Lake.
The sourcing of a crew to work at the remote location while
the existing team members continued to work on projects
during the busy 2018 season was another obstacle. Project
manager, Owen Langton, hired seasoned workers from
across Canada. Under the direction of Cole Allestor, HFDI’s
senior superintendent for the project, the crew proved to be
a hardy, competent team.
Getting the crew to the worksite also required several
modes of transportation for the two-day trip. Members of
the crew, who all lived in different parts of Canada, first flew
to Montreal. From there, a second mine-chartered flight
brought them north to the Meadowbank complex in the
Kivalliq District of Nunavut, where buses and pickup trucks
covered the final 50-kilometre stretch. To return, the crew
took the same two-day journey in reverse. From Day 1 until
the completion of the final pile, three crews worked a rotating
schedule to keep equipment running 24/7.
Phases I and II
Kivalliq Contractors Group (KCG), the general contractors,
were responsible for the first phase of the work that involved
building the berm through the middle of the lake. The berm
had to be built during the summer, which left KCG with a
short window of time for construction. HFDI’s work could
not begin until the berm was finished.
“The construction of the berm was a sizeable undertaking
and it was necessary to complete this work in the summer
before the lake froze over,” said Langton. “KCG proved to be
a very able partner in completing the work. The group had
acquired the necessary skills of working through the northern
winter and they were always willing and able to support
HFDI in the daily challenges that presented.” The Whale
Tail Dike was constructed as a zoned rockfill dike with a
46 Q4 2019 www.pilingcanada.ca