KMC Mining


“We supply every service that an operating mine provides. The only difference between us and an operating mine is that we don’t own the resource” Allan Flemming, President and COO of KMC Mining says.

“We do all of the preparation work, removing of the reclamation materials, we do the overburden removal, we build roads, we build containment dykes and do reclamation afterwards, we have hauled ore for the companies but generally the producers want to handle the ore themselves, still we’ve done that on many occasions as well. So we really do all the functions of an operating mine prior to the ore being processed.”

But not only does this 60-year old mining company hailing from Saskatchewan and Alberta meet the individual needs of each and every increasingly diverse customer they partner with, it continues to grow and accomplish each task to excellent safety standards too.

We caught up with Flemming and Mark Ryan, KMC Mining’s Business Development Manager, to talk about how the company has continued on with their growth strategy, kept employee training and safety a top priority, and competed with the ‘major players’ in the increasingly competitive oil sands industry.

Current projects and continued growth
KMC Mining has performed work on all surface oil sands operations in its 36 year history in the oil sands sector of northeastern Alberta and is currently in operating mode on two clients’ sites, both situated near Fort McMurray, Alberta.

“These sites are base operations and we’ve been there for a number of years so it’s really recurring work for those two customers; overburden removal, road construction, those are the focuses for those two projects” Flemming explains.

“The third site that we are operating on is Imperial Oil’s Kearl Oil Sands Project which is a new oil sands development located northeast of Fort McMurray. We are in a joint venture arrangement (K2 Mining) there and we are doing the site development program at Kearl. That involves the initial clearing, grading for facilities, initial road construction, initial pit development and starter dyke construction. It’s certainly a flagship project within the oil sands because it’s the only new project since the economic downturn.”

The unpredictable global economic climate has not prevented KMC from sticking to their growth strategy, as Ryan explains that the impact of this worldwide issue does not impact directly upon the work KMC undertake within the oil sands industry.

“As Al stated previously, our two existing major customers are operating and with oil sands mines they typically don’t slow down when the economy slows down. Their economics are based around the last barrel being the cheapest barrel they produce and the more that they produce, the better their overall results become so through the economic downturn we weren’t slowed down at all” he says.

“We continued through our growth strategy as we had laid out and saw a continued growth between our fiscal 2008 results and our fiscal 2009 results.”

Flemming highlights the people power behind their continued success.

“Our short term goal is to continue our growth plan. We’ve been growing at a fairly high rate over the last three years – 150 per cent in two years – and we see that trend continuing on. We just need to make sure that it’s a measured growth and that we have the people infrastructure to support that growth and maintain returns” he says.

“We also want to continue to diversify our client base and the Kearl project has certainly been a milestone in that strategy.”

KMC’s exemplary safety standards
Flemming and Ryan place great emphasis on KMC’s need to attract the best employees in order to support their growth strategy, plans for diversification and constant commitment to “provide valuable service to our customers”.

“We compete with the major oil firms in terms of labour workforce so we have to provide something different to attract them to KMC. We think that it’s the innovation we provide, the ‘do it right’ attitude of ourselves as a contractor. We have to do it right,  we have to do it efficiently and we have to do it productively and that’s how we compete on the labour market” Flemming says.

“When an employee comes to work for KMC we spend a lot of time training them and making sure that they are ready to work in the field. With the employment growth rate that we’ve had there have been a lot of new employees here who have very little experience and we’ve had to train them from day one. To do this we put them through a training process which consists of some computer-based training as well as in a ride-along mode in the haul trucks to learn the operation. Then as they get more comfortable they begin to operate the equipment with a trainer in the jump seat as they progress. They aren’t released to work for themselves until the trainer certifies them that they are well trained with some real life experience before they start.”

Ryan goes on to explain that this nurturing environment is somewhat of a KMC tradition with many of their higher level supervisors “having come up through the ranks here at KMC.”

“They started off as operators and have moved from there into more supervisory roles. They have been where the new operators are today and can really understand the growing pains that they’re going through.”

Safety and Growth Focus in Demanding Marketplace
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of KMC’s focuses on growth and safety is their achievement in these respective areas amidst the ever-demanding oil sands marketplace.

“We’ve achieved that safety performance while the company has continued to grow in a very demanding market place. The oil sands industry has been a very competitive marketplace over the past couple of years and we have had to compete with the big players for resources, for qualified people, for systems and equipment and we’ve achieved that safety performance in this very difficult environment. I think that is testament to our goal, our corporate vision which is to do it right and do it safely” Flemming explains.

If KMC’s recent track record is anything to go by, this company is set to enjoy another very exciting year as they continue to deliver excellent services to their customers, thrive in this demanding industry, support and safeguard their staff and move forwards with their strategic growth plan.