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Mining new opportunities through collaboration

May 15, 2019

When we work without borders and share ideas, we learn how our colleagues work, think, negotiate, and operate

Don’t judge an office by its size

Diana Eck, Environmental Services project manager in Elko, Nevada, works in an office of just seven people. Although her office is small, her projects substantially impact her region.

Joining Stantec through the JBR acquisition, Diana now delivers environmental impact statements (EIS) and environmental assessments throughout Nevada for both municipal and private clients. And by collaborating with others across the Company, she uses mostly in-house resources.

“I typically find all the experts I need within Stantec, which makes the project and budget so much easier to manage,” Diana says.

Diana’s collaborative approach on a recent gold-mining project brought together hydrogeologists, geophysicists, environmental scientists, and others from Stantec offices in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Alaska. What’s more, this collection of experts and JBR’s gold-mining experience helped Stantec break into the Nevada gold-mining market.

The best of local and global combine

Before the acquisition, JBR had a local office in Elko, however, often had to hire subconsultants to complete specialized resource assessments. Conversely, Stantec had the specialists—and were gaining more as experts like Rachael joined through acquisitions—but no personal relationship with the clients based in Elko.

“For many years, our local Stantec team tried to make inroads into the large market in Nevada—with no success,” explains Ben Veach, Environmental Services principal (Reno, Nevada). “But now the former JBR team is on board, and these amazing professionals are collaborating, opening doors for us that were previously impenetrable.”

The client also wins

Stantec’s introduction into the gold-mining market in Nevada proved a big win—not only for us but also for our clients. Before, the clients’ two choices were small local contractors and large foreign entities. Now, they have a third choice: working with Stantec local representatives who have local and global connections. Diana is certainly happy about that.

“Collaborating across widespread offices requires organization and forethought, but it’s worth doing,” she says. To date, Stantec’s won several pursuits for major gold-mining clients in Nevada. And the opportunities keep coming.

A discipline expansion

Diana collaborates with lead hydrogeologist and Mining project manager, Rachael Peavler (Salt Lake City, Utah), who came to Stantec with MWH in 2016.

When Rachael first joined the Mining group, she quickly realized that opportunities come from working across disciplines: her manager, vice president of Mining in the US Southwest, Hhan Olsen (Salt Lake City, Utah), took her on a tour of Rio Tinto Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon Mine, an open-pit copper mine and the largest human-made excavation on Earth.

“The experience blew my mind,” Rachael recalls. “I saw firsthand how hydrogeology is threaded into other mining disciplines like engineering, permitting, and compliance.”

Diana Eck and Rachael Peavler

Beyond our four walls

Today, Rachael co-manages the hydrogeology projects for a multibillion-dollar world-class copper and molybdenum mine near Arequipa, Peru. The mine spans five basins and about 100 square kilometers (39 square miles).

The hydrogeology projects focus on the mine’s tailings storage facilities (TSF); Stantec is the Engineer of Record for the two tailings dams, which will be among the world’s largest once they reach their design height of 260 and 310 meters (853 and 1017 feet).

The hydrogeology team has numerous responsibilities—from routine monitoring to field investigations (drilling, geochemistry, geophysics, and pumping tests) and from modeling to designing TSF process water-seepage mitigation systems. This interdisciplinary work requires collaborating with the geotechnical and civil engineering teams while the dams are built. Team members come from Peru, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and other locations.

“Interactions with the client and with each other improve because we’re collaborating with other teams across the Company,” Rachael enthuses. “Access to so many Stantec resources and talents outside the confines of our office walls opens up infinite ways that we can support our clients. In turn, this access to expertise creates opportunities for us to develop new skills and support one another on our career paths.”

No more borders

Collaboration also feeds, well, more collaboration. Before joining Stantec, the MWH team spent two years trying to develop work in the Nevada mining market. But after joining Stantec and connecting with the Stantec Nevada team (Diana and others), doors swung open.

And thanks to the inroads made by Rachael, Diana, and the teams they work with, Stantec now supports the hydrogeology needs of the Nevada gold-mining clients, particularly relating to permitting—a valuable new service their teams are developing.

When we work without borders and share ideas, we learn how our colleagues work, think, negotiate, and operate. We can then consider all angles of a problem and offer our clients the best solutions. Proving, once again, that we are better together.

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