Mathew LaFiandra of Ridley Terminals was at the August 9 meeting of Port Edward council to provide an update on the current expansion, although he told council expansion may not be the best word to describe what is happening out on Ridley Island.
“A lot of people are looking at this as an expansion, but it’s more of a redesign. It will not change what we do on the water, it’s really just upping the efficiency of our operation because the dock we have is really a 24 million tonne dock,” he explained.
“It’s stretching our yard out and making the facility longer, but the systems and how everything works is not really changing….Functionally, there will be little difference in how the site operates.”
Part of the plans call for some maintenance work on the two stacker/reclaimers to increase their efficiency, while a new, faster unit has been ordered and is being built in Europe before being barged over from China. The new unit, which LaFiandra said will be similar to when the cranes arrived in the harbour in terms of size and impact, be run at 6,200 tonnes per hour in reclaim, compared to the current 3,700, and 8,000 tonnes per hour stacking, compared to the current 6,300 tonnes per hour. The plan also calls for upping the rail on the site so that there will eventually be five inbound and four outbound rail lines related to the facility.
That work, along with levelling some of the hills near the current site, will require blasting work to be done.
“We don’t expect the blasting period to last more than three to six months, and we’re not talking about explosions every day but more like a quarry. That will, of course, also include notification to the public,” he said.
The expectation is that work will not only ramp up next year, but will continue into 2013 and 2014 and LaFiandra said the project will hold great benefit to the economy both during and after construction.
“Obviously for the coming years there will be a lot of opportunity for contractors. We have a mandate from our board to make contracts as accessible as possible for local businesses,” he
“When I first came up here in 2008 RTI had 40 employees and now we have about 115…We anticipate that there will be another 25 jobs once the project is done.”
And while he and others from Ridley Terminals were at the meeting to get feedback from Port Edward residents through their elected officials, Mayor Dave MacDonald and others said they would much rather the company hold a public meeting in the community.
“I think it is very important to talk to the rest of the community, particularly when there are concerns about coal dust. To just have us as public input from Port Edward, I don’t think that is good enough,” he said.
“We’re supportive of this. When I see a coal train go by my house I’m glad to see it because that is about $10,000 into the economy, but with that comes responsibility…People are going to want you to be looking at monitors to measure and track the coal dust,” added councillor Knut Bjorndal.