Mining. It’s in Our Veins: Robertson and the Canadian Mining Industry.

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Canada is one of the world’s most important suppliers of metals and minerals. In fact, according to the Mining Association of Canada, we’re among the top five countries worldwide in the production of 17 of these crucial materials, from potash, uranium, nickel, and cobalt to the rare earth elements like lithium and graphite that make a greener, more sustainable world possible. Minerals and metals coming from Canadian mines are valued around the world for production of products as diverse as buildings, electronics, toothpaste, vehicles, and solar cells.  

State of Mine

As crucial as Canada’s mining industry is to the world, it’s just as important to Canada. Mining contributed $109 billion – 5% of the nation’s GDP – in 2019. That’s up from $87 billion just three years earlier. Likewise, this critical industry provides employment for some 719,000 Canadians – one in every 26 jobs. Mining provides exceptional income, too, with average annual per-job compensation above $115,000. While this critical industry has the potential to be hazardous, mining companies in Canada have maintained one of the safest jurisdictions in the world.  

Mining is serious business in Canada. It’s important to our country, our citizens, and the world at large. There is a lot at stake, too – not just returns, income and GDP, but jobs, reputations, safety, the environment, and lives. For many years, Robertson Building Systems has been a proud partner in the Canadian mining industry. We understand better than anyone that in such a critical industry, with so much at stake, everything must not only be done on time, it also must be done right. It must be done to spec and within code, because it’s more than a matter of profit and loss – it can be a matter of life and death.    

Expert Seekers: Seek no Further 

Robertson’s approach to its relationship with every industry is to become experts in its specific needs and requirements. Mining has heavy-duty specifications and requirements –all of which must be delivered on. As Robertson District Manager John Gelms explained, “The mining industry hires highly experienced consultants that review every aspect to the operation of every custom building and prepare a design and tender package of the building”. 

Two workers on a mining site

Into the Wild 

Typically, a mining company doesn’t just need a building. They’re pushing back frontiers into remote parts of the country, where little infrastructure and support exists – but an endowment of subterranean metals or minerals beckons. “They have to build almost an entire town,” Robertson regional sales manager James Austin said, “setting up everything from water treatment centers, warehousing, hoist and processing buildings along with office buildings. Large machinery has to be warehoused.”  

That new town needs to be built from the ground up. It needs to be built quickly and must be tough enough to stand up to climatic extremes, from negative 40°C in the winter to 30°C in the summer. Gelms pointed out that mining also requires taller buildings than other industries, “Process buildings or Headframe buildings are normally 80 to 100 feet tall.” 

Demanding Specs 

To put it in simple terms, mining companies need to erect a small, industrial town in remote parts of a challenging wilderness. They need it done efficiently, done right, and done in a way that can stand up to the rigorous demands of mining, its heavy-duty machinery and corrosive environments.  

Metal construction has long been seen as an ideal answer to these challenges. “Metal buildings are very appealing because of the open concept,” Austin said. “They go up quickly.” With the inclusion of innovative products such as insulated metal panels (IMPs), this efficiency is further expedited. With a foamed-in-place core surrounded by heavy gauge steel, IMPs provide superior thermal properties and insulation, while providing air, water and vapor barrier in an all-in-one product which is installed in a single, simple step. “The insulated metal panel is a one-stop shop, which is very convenient to put up,” said Austin.  


However, we’re fully aware metal construction isn’t the only player in the game. “The metal building is only one portion of the project,” Austin pointed out. “There’s all the other trades. The metal building is usually one of the first things that gets put up, so if there’s a delay in its schedule, you’re going to have a big problem. Mining schedules are extremely important,” said Austin. “Your specifications and timelines need to be met.”  

High Stakes 

With critical specifications and timelines, immense project size and scope – and a lot riding on all of it – mining companies can’t afford to take chances with fly-by-night or newcomer operations. They need a partner as old as the Canadian mining industry. A partner like Robertson. 

Workers at a mining site

Bet on the Best 

Robertson Building Systems has a history with roots as old and deep as the timbers supporting Canada’s historic gold mines. We’ve been in the construction industry since 1863. “With its background and expertise, Robertson is able to look at these very customized specifications and drawings, interpret what is required and use its design software and expertise internally to provide a building that accommodates what’s required,” Gelms said. “Robertson has the expertise, the steel, they have the schedules, they have the right engineering team to be able to meet all the specs,” Austin added. “They get the price, they get the availability of the product, and they get the correct engineering and design of the product – which meets the specifications.” 

A Load Off Your Mine 

Robertson delivers on every aspect of metal construction for mining. “We’ve got the structural fabricating plants,” Gelms said. “Our factories are certified as per CSA-A660, Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) and IAS AC472. The IAS AC472 audit is a complete audit reviewing processes, quality and procedures for metal building manufacturers”. Robertson steel can also be made to withstand the harshest environments, with hot dip G-90 galvanizing on 8, 10 and 12-inch purlins and girts. Robertson’s structural steel can also be Hot Dip Galvanized or epoxy coated to withstand corrosive environments.  

We’re ready meet every challenge Canada’s climate and the mining industry has – and to do it on time, in spec and with durability that’s sure to outlast us all. When you’re ready, get in touch with a Robertson representative.