A 1st load for Rosaire A Desgagnes at Valleyfield

Today, Canada's Arctic occupies more news pages than ever before. Politician visits, social issues, cruise ship visits, global warming and unprecedented growth. It is this growth that Valport and the Société du Port have prepared for over recent years.  

An optimum sized port facility, located in the St. Lawrence Seaway near Montreal, The Port of Valleyfield has served Canada's Arctic and Foreign Trade destinations for nearly two decades. Recent mining industry activity set Valport on a path to improve and increase its capabilities in the business of staging and shipping large, “mega-projects”. 

140 ton crane loaded in Valleyfield - Offloaded from the Rosaire A Desgagnes Milne Inlet

Nothing is taken for granted. The owners of Valport are fully aware of Canada's “powerhouse position” in the global mining arena and know just how fickle the market can be with the competition for development dollars shifting like the sands of time. Each new project, new facilities development, equipment purchases are met with a demanding and equally market savvy customer base. But, decidedly Valport has made these moves to remain in step with market opportunities and growth. 

Crane walks off lightering barge to beach at Milne Inlet

Valport Maritime Services serves as the management group for cargos moving through the port facility. Recently the business has developed and upgraded new warehousing, a fabrication and assembly centre, a packaging and crating centre, cross dock operation, intermodal facility, staging  facility all within a secure, vast acreage able to accommodate the largest of exploration projects domestic or abroad. Regional infrastructure changes such as Autoroute 30 and, the currently under construction, CSX Rail Hub has positioned not only Valport and the Port of Valleyfield for an increase in business, but for the entire region making for a true multi-dimensional, multi-service logistics dynamo.  

Valport created a proprietary software package complete with
real-time data-loggers for processing all cargo using bar codes 

Again recently, on the heals of the successful movement and coordination of another mega-project – Detour Gold, Valport was quick to identify where it could make additional infrastructure improvements. The Detour project was complex in that it had to manage and coordinate the heavy-lift requirements of moving the largest mining mill ever built as it arrived in sections from Bilboa, Spain along with some 80 truckloads and intermodal movements of project cargo to the Northern Ontario mine site.

Enter the Baffinland Iron Ore Mine project (BIM•TSX) – located some 1,000 km from Iqaluit on Baffin Island. BIM, as it has become known is a traditional open pit mining operation in a rather unusual location. While the volume of project cargo pales in the eyes of global mega-ports, rest assured moving 150,000 M3 of project cargo in order of need; managing complex, oversized lifts and moving them in perfect condition through the ice laden shipping conditions of Canada's high Arctic, landing them on a beach and doing all of this within a 90 day shipping window is not for the faint of heart. Kudos to the organizers at BIM/Hatch and the carriers NEAS & Desgagnés.

“A project of this scope only meets its budgetary guidelines and calendar timelines with the combined efforts of dedicated and knowledgeable people”, says Valport President, Frank Dunn, “and the depth of know how that was assembled for this project, I dare say, would be difficult to find elsewhere”.

Baffinland selected Hatch Ltd - a multidisciplinary professional services firm that, in short, works to turnkey billion dollar mega-projects throughout the world. Valport opened its doors this year to a select team of logistics personnel from Hatch. These seasoned professionals arrive with “large-project” understanding but more to the point, they come with that “getting it done” discipline of working on projects destined for inhospitable climes and challenging discharge conditions. 

Dunn was referring to Hatch's on-site logistics manager John Dingwell, who arrived in Valleyfield with over 35 years of Arctic know how. “John has saved this projects hundred's of thousands with his experience and innovative methods” said Dunn. 

Claude Desgagnés Northbound

Two brilliant carriers - NEAS and Desgagnés TransArctik - both pioneers of Canada's Arctic community resupply program and specialized large-project carriers also weigh in with proven scope and process to deliver cargos in the most challenging of conditions. Dunn also commented, “we have enjoyed a long association with both carriers and the combined talent and experience only serves to meet the obligations to our customer”. 

Equipment arrives in Valleyfield for Toromont and the Baffinland project

Baffinland Iron Mines also have assembled a crack team of site and construction managers to receive goods and transfer all cargo for the building of their camp and creating the infrastructure around the mine operations. Valport's own team, who specialize in the staging and preparing project cargos destined for Canada's Arctic and other challenging climates and discharge facilities across the globe. 

This combination of knowledgeable people - people that have collaborated for years and their collective experience with Canada's Arctic make for a very special group of dedicated individuals to deliver projects such as these to fruition. 

This year Valport introduced a new, custom designed “Terminal Operations System – TOS” for the management and receipt of goods in Port. Each individual item is barcoded upon receipt and logged in real-time, catalogued into a general - yet client-specific database. Each bill of lading is transferred to the offices and checked against barcoding entries made at Valport's secure receiving gate for accuracy and destination. 

These receipts are then reviewed by Hatch personnel (on-site) and organized for staging in predetermined lay down areas within the port facility. These areas address storage needs – items that can remain outside (such as vehicles and equipment), those that must be warehoused due to weather (such as building materials) and those of a sensitive nature (scientific or fragile items) are directed to and staged as required. 

Baffinland Mines' site managers and Hatch's team coordinate what is needed at the mine site. A further coordination of mine construction manpower must meet specific weather windows, site resources (equipment brought to site) and the arrival of construction materials to maximize these manpower assets. 

The team must also determine how they will receive goods on the beach at Milne Inlet. To serve as a reminder there are no hardware stores located in town - actually the nearest community, Pond Inlet (Mittimatilik) is 160km from the site - a helicopter ride away. The crews working with Desgagnes TransArctik and NEAS' have the combined expertise of handling cargo in these conditions. All and all, projects of this complexity require honed experience, cooperation and ever demanding innovation. 

Waguih Rayes, General Manager for Desgagnes TransArctik put it this way, “At Desgagnés Transarctik and NSSI, we are happy and much appreciative for the partnership-like work relation we have this year at the Port of Valleyfield, namely with Valport and HATCH. Our teamwork with Valport, on the Baffinland Iron Mines cargo project, ensures the maximization of shiploads and a timely delivery of cargo to Milne Inlet, all as originally planned and per precise shipping schedules”. 

Baffinland crew at site taking receipt of goods on the beach at Milne Inlet

The Hatch team must determine how they will move items from the beach - some weighing as much as 140 tons, while the BIM onsite crew need to prepare for the transportation of this cargo 110km to camp operations (on a donkey path that no self respecting Taliban terrorist would take). Preparation for receipt of many of these items originate at time of design and procurement and certainly in the process of staging items in Valleyfield in order of need and discharge. 

Baffinland and Hatch personnel work in tandem with Valport to draft a preliminary load plan for the scheduled vessel - only to be reviewed by the ship's supercargo upon loading. When ships arrive in port, Valport's stevedoring team move their focus to expediting ship loading in collaboration with the carrier's crew to make the load and maintain schedules.

At time of writing 100,000 M3 of cargo - 4 shiploads – have reached Milne Inlet. Another 60,000 M3 was received and staged at Valport and awaiting the next sailing. Valport is receiving, processing and staging upwards of 2000 M3 of general and oversize/heavy daily, while they simultaneously load ships. Their crating facility is packaging and crating, not only Baffinland cargo, but also all goods received in the Port.

To date sections of camp buildings have been delivered to site. Components for a tank farm that will accommodate aircraft fuel, diesel and “must-have” heating fuel have been loaded and shipped. In addition this equipment and cargo specific to mine operations have also made their way north. While this season to date hasn't been shy of it's share of measured challenges, the coordination and collaboration of all teams involved are meeting the successes all have worked towards.

Valport strives for perfection – often dealing with the unknown – it’s flexibility and infrastructure that really count when you’re working in Arctic conditions with limited windows of opportunity… ADAPT and overcome.


Whether you are a freight forwarder, a project or logistics manager or simply looking for answers on how best to ship your goods, take comfort in calling Valport. One of our project sales team will be pleased to assist.




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