Construction crews can plan for just about every contingency on a project, except for Mother Nature. KE&G Construction, Inc., a Tucson firm founded in 1972, experienced this last summer while building a new pit dewatering pipeline at an undisclosed mine in Arizona.
“The project replaced an existing pit dewatering pipeline, which conflicted with future pit expansion,” Matt Nehrmeyer, KE&G’s mining division manager, says. “The new pipeline takes a different path and includes intermediate booster pump connections, road crossings, and steep terrain.”
Work was progressing on schedule and was approximately 75 percent completed when the late summer monsoon arrived. “The rains were our biggest challenge, and they came in heavy,” Nehrmeyer says. “Right away, the storms caused deep erosion to access roads and effectively shut the project down for over a month. After we reestablished access, the pipe had to be pulled out of canyons, dug out of small landslides, and cleaned of debris.”
The KE&G team was also challenged while installing pipeline at the mine over some rugged terrain. "Our crew had to think outside of the box to find ways to install pipe up very steep slopes safely," Nehrmeyer says. “Luckily, we had the support of the mine personnel and used them as a resource to ensure each strategy had taken into account the necessary safeguards.”
Coordinating with ongoing mining activity was also vital to avoid accidents. “Most notable was the haul truck traffic, which required advanced coordination with mining operations to ensure the timing of the interaction would not put construction activity and haulage activity in the same place at the same time,” Nehrmeyer says.
Despite the difficulty of the work, KE&G completed the majority of the project without outside help. “We needed to get some outside help for labor at the beginning of the project due to a very accelerated start date, but other than that, we completed this project without subcontractors,” Nehrmeyer says.
Nehrmeyer is proud of the work his crew performed during the installation of the pit dewatering pipeline. "It is worth mentioning that the success of this project was absolutely the result of the passion and dedication of all those involved,” he says. “It was refreshing to work with a team that was committed to success and more than willing to provide support if and when needed.”
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2022 issue, Vol. 11, No. 1.