A roughly 22-kilometer-long outfall pipe was built at the Kittilä gold mine in Finland as part of the mine’s environmental investment program. A range of materials that not only stand time, but also endure the challenging northern weather conditions, ranging from cold winters to hot summers, were selected for the site. The project was implemented using a solution provided by Pipelife. The final system was built in cooperation between multiple parties.
In February 2020, Varpaisjärven Maansiirto ja Vesitekniikka Oy arrived at the construction site located in Kittilä. The temperature was well below zero and the ground was covered by 1.5 meters of snow. All the snow had to first be removed. Snow ploughs cleared the pipeline area over a width of 30 meters. In addition to winter conditions, challenges were presented by peatlands, covering roughly six kilometers of the line’s distance. What is more, the pipeline had to be installed underneath three waterbodies and one road. Hours and hours of planning went into the project before pipe installation could be started.
The goal of the outfall pipe at the Kittilä gold mine is to reduce the mine’s environmental footprint. According to the current estimate of mineral resources, the mine is expected to operate until 2034. This means that the pipe system used in the project must be long-lasting.
“It is important that products have a long service life. They also must be resistant to changing weather conditions. After all, Lapland has long and cold winters and warm summers”, says Jaakko Saukkoriipi, superintendent of the environment and tailings management at Agnico Eagle Finland.
“It was clear, from the very first stages of the tendering process, that Pipelife’s solution is ideal for this project. Considering overall project management, it is always best the fewer parties are involved. Pipelife’s ability to offer a comprehensive solution was a major advantage, because it helped us to successfully complete this project”, Saukkoriipi says.
“We saw right away that cooperation produces the best results. AFRY had already prepared excellent plans for the project during the tendering phase. This put us in a good position to consider if we can somehow improve the solution even further or select more cost-effective options, without making any compromises over the quality of results”, says Mika Ervasti, product manager at Pipelife Finland.
“Cooperation worked like a charm, allowing us to learn from one another, as the sector’s top professionals gathered around the same table. The solution produced is excellent, both technically and financially. We can all be proud of it”, Ervasti says.
Wholesale also played its part in the project.
“Our invoices pass through wholesalers also in industrial projects. In this project, we worked with Dahl, and its established productive partnership with Agnico provided us with significant added value. By working with Dahl, we were able to find solutions that benefited both parties”, Ervasti says.
Roughly one hundred material loads were delivered to the outfall pipe site in Kittilä. This means that logistics solutions took their fair share of planning. Material was delivered to the site by Seikkala Transport Oy. The company has decades of experience not only in transport solutions, but also in cooperation with Pipelife.
“Cooperation with Pipelife has been easy. Pipelife has assigned familiar and long-standing contact people to work with us, also in this project. We have cooperated with Pipelife for roughly 30 years now, with both parties showing trust in our work together”, says Janne Seikkala, CEO of Seikkala Transport.
“The planning process for the Kittilä project started already in 2017 when the tendering, process for the outfall pipe was launched. We immediately started to investigate our ability to handle such a large project with Pipelife”, Seikkala says.
“Seikkala came up with a wonderful idea of oversized pipe deliveries. Based on this idea, we started to identify how long pipes we can produce. Janne and I also visited all roads and outfall locations in the Kittilä area beforehand. On the basis of our findings, we prepared a plan for Agnico on the improvements required to make all deliveries logistically possible, and also safe”, Ervasti says.
“Transporting oversized loads requires driver who is highly skilled in handling pipes during loading and unloading, as well as during transport. Most pipes were transported during winter when loads need to be secured with special care, because pipes are heavy and especially slippery in winter conditions. The narrow roads and winter conditions in the north also presented their own challenges when transporting oversized loads”, Seikkala says.
“We held a one-day training event at the factory regarding the correct and safe handling of pipes, including representatives of the Kittilä contractor and the logistics partner. Seikkala also made improvements to the trailer to ensure that pipes cannot fall off uncontrollably under any circumstances”, Ervasti says.
Once all challenges related to production and logistics had been solved, it was time to transport the oversized loads.
“In the end, the oversized loads produced huge benefits in terms of logistics, because the need for transport decreased by one quarter. The solution also reduced workloads at the construction site, as significantly fewer pipe joints needed to be welded. This produced significant cost savings for the client. This solution will definitely be used in other projects in the future”, says delighted Ervasti.
Pipes for the site were manufactured in Haparanda, and equipment chambers and pipeline components were made at the Ii factory. The northern location of the factories also helped to complete the outfall pipe project.
“It was very important that Pipelife’s factories are located so close. It helped to maintain the delivery reliability and to schedule material deliveries in the best way to move the project forward. Of course, having such short transport distances also reduced the project’s carbon footprint”, says Saukkoriipi.
The project schedule became tighter when the project was launched, which added another challenge to material deliveries.
“Pipelife succeeded well in product deliveries, although the schedule was tightened by six months. All material that was ordered was delivered on time. The high-quality products were also easy to install at the worksite and join with other products”, says Jorma Tuovinen, chief operating officer at Varpaisjärven Maansiirto ja Vesitekniikka Oy.
“During the delivery phase, we held weekly delivery meetings to ensure that the all the material can be delivered on time. The goal was to keep customer promises, despite changes in schedules. I would like to thank all our production employees. None of this would have been possible without their hard work. I am really proud of our team”, says Ervasti.
“Pipelife exceeded its promises, although schedules became tighter during the project. Pipelife’s absolute strengths in this project were its smoothly flowing operations and its ability to adapt to the client’s new schedules and needs. I would certainly recommend Pipelife for mining contractors and similar projects”, says Saukkoriipi.
“According to our motto, it’s all about the attitude. We want to be the best partner and serve our customers to the best of our abilities, from start to finish. These are the values that make up Pipelife’s strengths”, Ervasti says.
Agnico Eagle Finland Oy is a subsidiary of Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, a Canadian gold mining company. It operates a gold mine in Kittilä and carries out active mineral exploration operations in Finland and other Nordic countries. The Kittilä gold mine is the largest in Europe.
Wholesaler: Dahl Suomi Oy
Contractor: Varpaisjärven Maansiirto ja Vesitekniikka Oy
End customer: Agnico Eagle Finland Oy
Consultant: Afry Finland Oy
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