Mobilizing facility and food services at one of Canada’s most remote mines during a global pandemic

Overview of the Story  

Quebec NunavikCanadian Royalties is a Montreal-based company that operates a copper and nickel mine in Nunavik, the northernmost region in Quebec. The mine’s base camp is operated year-round by more than 450 employees and is located approximately 50 kilometres from the nearest town—this is a 20-minute drive in summer months but can take upwards of 45 minutes in the winter. What’s more, large supply deliveries can only be facilitated by boat during the warmer seasons.  

In July 2020, Sodexo was engaged to provide facility and food services at the Canadian Royalties’ mining camp in addition to supplying the necessary PPE in light of the evolving global COVID-19 pandemic. Due to weather as well as the mine’s location and operational needs, Sodexo’s mobilization required the sourcing and delivery of the nine-month supply of food and provisions in a six-week timeframe while managing the transition of essential hospitality services to ensure the health and safety of all employees.  

Sodexo and our Inuit partner Nuvu successfully established a team to secure a reliable supply chain. Together, we leveraged Sodexo’s international experience and Nuvu’s local expertise to apply innovative methods and cultivate meaningful relationships with the community to deliver results.  

During the mobilization, mine operations were not disrupted. Sodexo sourced and distributed all supplies through its Canadian supply chain network and continues to manage all accommodation services at the mine. 

“Our employees, their safety and wellbeing, are the most important element of our operation. We are pleased to partner with Sodexo to oversee and deliver essential provisions and services to ensure our people are cared for and our mine operates at full capacity year-round,” said Éric Luneau, Vice-President, Human Resources for Canadian Royalties Inc.  

 

By the Numbers

  • 450+ employees
  • Provisions for three meals per day over 279 days
  • 102 containers
  • Six weeks to deliver 

Erwin Joosten, Senior Vice President, Food & Facilities Services, oversaw this successful operation. 

 

Challenges

  • Delivering a large quantity of product in compressed timeframe: This task was particularly complex as our teams had to navigate through various COVID-19 parameters, such as ensuring the health and safety of employees, working at reduced staff levels and handling low supply inventory in a limited timeframe.
  • Maintaining an environmental sustainability priority: Sodexo is committed to sourcing products that reduce our impact on the environment. Despite additional challenges, Sodexo’s firm commitment to environment had to remain a key priority during the operation.
  • Mobilizing a new workforce: To overcome the lack of resources, sustainable and strong ties had to be created with local and indigenous communities.
  • Adapting to changing health and security protocols: Challenges were not limited at the supply level only. The pandemic brought new challenges and complicated every existing protocol, including hiring and onboarding new employees. Everything had to be rethought in a limited amount of time.  

 

Solutions

Teamwork, discipline and innovation made our operation a success. In just six weeks, our team, along with our Innuit partner Nuvu, set a positive course for Canadian Royalties.  

  • Global coordination, local execution: Our team coordinated efforts across our global company and with our local partners to deliver provisions safely and on schedule. Sodexo sourced cleaning and disinfectant products to ensure pandemic health and safety protocols could be followed at the base camp. At destination, the team was responsible for unloading the containers, transferring goods to trucks for transport to the base camp. The unloading required the team to use special insulated blankets to ensure provisions didn’t freeze. 
  • Responsible sourcing for the environment: With this project, we were able to exceed environmental targets through our responsible sourcing, which included milk in recyclable containers.
    “At Sodexo, sustainability is one of our key pillars. I’m proud of our supply team who collaborated with local partners to think outside of the box in order to ensure we were able to meet and exceed our environmental goals for this project,” said Erwin Joosten.
  • Meeting client needs: The team worked together with the camp’s Executive Chef, Jean Bouchard, to source the right products for his menu, ensuring products were not only delivered on time but also to meet the camp’s needs. Our work with Canadian Royalties went beyond supplying provisions. We transitioned some of our existing employees to the base camp and, through our partnership with Nuvu, we also proudly welcomed new employees from the surrounding Innuit community.
    “Our relationships with Inuit communities are true partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Our work boosts the education, health and overall wellness of the communities we serve. At the same time, with the support of Nuvu, we have been able to leverage Inuit talent to help us deliver our services,” said Erwin Joosten, Senior Vice President, Energy & Resources.
  • Going beyond: Sodexo hired a special COVID-19 team, in charge of distributing cabarets, glasses and utensils as well as cleaning high touch surfaces on an hourly basis. These measures were taken to ensure a safe working environment for everyone.

 

Results

  • Base camp operations continued seamlessly.
  • All 450+ employees will be provided with three meals per day through the next delivery of provisions, which is 279 days from July 2020.
  • All employees were supplied with PPE.
  • Sodexo proudly formed local partnerships with Nuvu that will lead to long-term benefits for the company and the communities of Nunavik.
  • Sodexo maintained a safe working environment.
  • We once again demonstrated our ability to quickly assemble teams, even during a global pandemic, to supply our energy and resource partners with necessary provisions without interruption.  

February 04, 2021