Combining forces from the outset – the benefit of an integrated engineering and environmental team

Robin Kalanchey and Scott Weston discuss the benefits of a combined engineering and environmental team.

There are two main efforts required to advance most resource/industrial development projects: 

  • Engineering design and development, and  
  • Environmental, social and regulatory activities.   

Engineering work includes planning the configuration and designing the details of the project to understand the physical and economic constraints. The environment and social activities. often understood by most as environmental baseline studies and impact assessments, also include obtaining the necessary permits and engaging with First Nations and communities to understand their interests and concerns to find a way to build a better project. 

These two principal efforts are interdependent; environmental and social activities cannot advance without knowing how the project will look, and the project cannot be engineered and optimized without knowing the environmental and social constraints. To be developed responsibly and in a truly sustainable manner, both workstreams need to be advanced collaboratively.  

Schedule is one of the biggest risks to any development project, whether it is a mine, public infrastructure, or a commercial terminal/port facility. Given the magnitude of investment required to develop and construct these facilities, unexpected delays in advancing from concept and design to commercial operation can be disastrous for shareholders and stakeholders alike.  Schedule targets can be jeopardized when there is a lack of alignment and communication between the engineering and environmental teams and externally with communities and regulators. 

 

Finding a better way, together 

Engineering and environmental work streams need to happen in parallel but often do so in silos. What would happen if both streams worked together as an integrated team? Imagine the benefits. 

Taking advantage of opportunities to systematically integrate project activities to create efficiency and reduce gaps between the workstreams will result in a better project design, reduced costs for development, and improved schedule to commercial operations.   

In the last few years, we have challenged our model and brought our engineering and environmental teams together to create an integrated solution for our clients.  

The result? A breakdown of cultural and technical barriers between two different but intimately connected groups. Our teams function as a collaborative engine, rather than two disparate and competing mechanisms, resulting in an aligned approach throughout the project lifecycle. This helps create more successful outcomes for clients while also assuring scope, timeline, and budget, ultimately reducing project risk. 

 

Social responsibility 

In the last decade, there has been a significant shift in recognizing the importance of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development of projects. The most successful projects, those with the shortest pathway to commercial production, have incorporated the symbiotic relationship between the project and those potentially impacted. They have worked jointly with stakeholders to ensure that the community support is earned, and Free, Prior & Informed Consent of Indigenous communities is granted (where warranted) and held out as the guiding tenet as the project moves between phases of development, execution and closure. 

Understanding exactly what is required to gain project approval and the necessary steps to secure the social license for development efficiently and cost-effectively requires considering all necessary socioeconomic variables throughout the project cycle. 


We’re here to help 

Having an integrated engineering and environment team is something that we are proud to offer our clients, as we believe that the benefits of a connected, aligned team comprising environmental, social, and engineering activities provides unmatched benefits to project development. By having the right people working together, we ask the right questions and focus on the most important issues to move a project as seamlessly as possible through permitting and development. 

 

For more information, contact Robin Kalanchey and Scott Weston

 

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