Deep in Nevada’s backcountry, between the Toquima and Toiyabe mountain ranges whose peaks top 11,000 feet, Kinross’s Round Mountain Gold Mine is one of the most rugged and remote places Sundt has ever performed work. Having overcome weather, travel, and logistical challenges, Project Manager Derek Neill expressed pride in his team’s resilience thus far. The already-massive open-pit mine is being expanded, and since September we’ve been building new processing facilities to accommodate its growth.
“This one was a short fuse,” said Derek on the project’s quick start, “so you have to get creative with staffing, training, housing, and transportation”—and that’s just to get to the work, let alone perform it. Sundt has taken several steps to ensure necessary manpower and resources for the project. We’ve leased a temporary housing camp, which employee-owners have rightly named “Camp Grit,” and rented vehicles that can handle harsh conditions, including two 52-passenger buses equipped with tire chains. Then there’s onboarding, MSHA training, warehousing and equipment, and IT needs to account for, and it becomes clear just how much coordination is required to deliver as promised on such a job. “We’re prepared though,” said Derek, “mainly because we can cherry-pick from a deep roster of skilled craft professionals. I’ve got some real road warriors; they’d work on the moon if that’s where the job was.” Moreover, everyone here realizes the importance of doing well on this job, as it can open new doors in an important market like Nevada.
With over 150 Sundt employee-owners on site, we’re self-performing a large majority of the work, including rebar, cold-weather concrete, and even architecture. The scope includes multiple PEMBs (pre-engineered metal buildings) and related civil, structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation work. Self-performing allows for better control of scheduling and quality, especially with several risk factors already in play. “It’s gotten down to 5 or 7 degrees here, and at that point the project just turns into an ice rink,” said Derek. “We had to buy special cleats for our boots so guys wouldn’t be sliding around out there.”
Add to these conditions a demanding six-day work week, and time off to see family about once a month (at best), and you might think workforce morale would be another challenge. The attitude here couldn’t be more positive, though, according to Derek. “These guys come to work so motivated, and we actually have a lot of fun.” Crews have taken ownership of the Grit part of Sundt’s tagline and now have “Got Grit?” sewn on their hats and jackets. “I know that our whole company has grit,” said Derek, “but I think we have the grittiest team.” Challenge accepted, Derek. Challenge accepted.