Cianbro loads last of 22 electrical building modules for Canadian nickel mining project

Workers (upper left) stand atop one of the massive electrical modules that will soon be loaded onto a barge at Cianbro's Eastern Manufacturing Facility in Brewer for their trip north to a new nickel processing plant in Newfoundland. Photographed Thursday, Jan. 19. 2012.
Workers (upper left) stand atop one of the massive electrical modules that will soon be loaded onto a barge at Cianbro's Eastern Manufacturing Facility in Brewer for their trip north to a new nickel processing plant in Newfoundland. Photographed Thursday, Jan. 19. 2012. Buy Photo
Posted Oct. 02, 2012, at 7:49 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Cianbro’s Eastern Manufacturing Facility on South Main street has spent the last two years designing, constructing and delivering electrical building modules for a nickel processing plant in Long Harbour, Newfoundland.

“We loaded the last of the 22 modules this morning,” Cianbro Vice President Joe Cote, who is the general manager of the module manufacturing facility, said Tuesday. “Right now, weather and scheduling permitting, the barge will depart sometime midday on Thursday, subject to change, of course.”

Cianbro won a contract to construct the electrical building modules in September 2010 for Brazil-based Vale, a mining company that is constructing a nickel processing plant in Long Harbour, Newfoundland. Vale has mining operations all over the globe.

“This has been a very successful program for Cianbro and its team members and for its client,” Cote said. “We’ve delivered a high-quality product on time, and the client is very satisfied.”

Cianbro negotiated with officials from Vale and the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador for about two years before being awarded the contract, Cianbro Chairman and CEO Peter Vigue said when announcing the multimillion-dollar contract that put 100-plus employees to work at the site. Workers in Pittsfield, where Cianbro is headquartered, fabricated much of the steel.

The massive gray structures, which included transformers, switch gears and major electrical components, were between one and three stories high and all were loaded onto barges and shipped down the Penobscot River and up the coast to the Canadian province.

“Although they work together to operate the plant, they also work individually,” Cote said of each electrical building module.

Because of business proprietary issues, Cote could not be more specific, but he did say the massive modules built locally were impressive.

“They are spotless and smell like a brand new automobile,” he said. “There are some pretty cool things.”

The South Brewer module facility, which opened in early 2008 replacing the old defunct Eastern Fine Paper Co., completed its first contract to build 52 refinery modules for a Texas company in June 2010 and was awarded the Vale contract three months later.

The recently completed Vale contract is another feather in the cap for Eastern Manufacturing Facility, he said.

“The workmanship and the quality that went into these electrical building modules is something for the resume,” Cote said. “It’s high-value and high-quality work and it’s quite impressive.”

Cianbro began transferring employees from the Brewer site to other Cianbro jobs as the Vale contract neared its end.

“They’re all working in projects in other areas,” Cote said. When a new contract is signed for the Brewer plant, “we’ll pull them back.”

Company officials currently are holding talks with international companies doing jobs “of significant scale” in North America, the vice president said.

“We have a lot of opportunities in front of us [but] we cannot say what some of those are right now,” Cote said. “We’re readying the yard for the next one.”

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