Project profile: Project Management for Canadian Zinc’s Prairie Creek Project – Basic Engineering Design

Client: Tetra Tech WEI Inc.
End client: Canadian Zinc Corp.
Sector: Mining & Minerals
Duration: 12 months (2014)
Location: Vancouver, Canada

  • Fast-track schedule
  • Multiple Engineering teams and vendors
  • High priority given to budget and schedule control
  • Tender/bid management and evaluation
  • Capex estimate at ~15% level of accuracy


The Prairie Creek lead-zinc-silver mine, located in the spectacular Mackenzie Mountains, 500 km west of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, was built between 1980 and 1982 in response to high silver prices; when the price collapsed, so did the owner, Cadillac Exploration. The mine has been a “sleeping beauty” ever since. The current owner, Canadian Zinc Corp., completed permitting to restart the mine late in 2013. Located at a remote site and surrounded by Nahanni National Park Reserve, Prairie Creek will set new standards for health, safety and environmental protection. Canadian Zinc embarked on an aggressive schedule for the construction of new facilities at Prairie Creek in 2014.


Johan Steenkamp was the project manager on this Basic Engineering Design project worth an estimated CAD$160-million (2012) in capital expenditure, on behalf of his client, engineering consulting firm Tetra Tech WEI Inc. He managed a team of professional engineers and vendors, and apart from Project Management, his responsibilities included;

  • Schedule and Scope management
  • Budget Management
  • Vendor Management
  • Construction Schedule Development
  • Contractor negotiations
  • Bid evaluation and management


The project resulted in establishing Capex at ~15% level of accuracy. Basic Engineering was completed together with vendor and contractor commitments to prices for a two-year period. Several trade-off studies and alternatives were considered and a construction plan for execution was developed. A site visit with contractors and engineering staff was conducted. Contractor negotiations were performed with the main bidders to establish site works and refurbishment costs.

The following tools were used:

  • MS Project
  • Navigator Toolset
  • PPO
  • Ares Corp. PRISM G2

Download the project profile here:
Canadian Zinc_Prairie Creek_Project_Management

Client comments

Tom Morrison on site at Canadian Zinc’s Prairie Creek operation. (Photo courtesy of Tom Morrison)

Tom Morrison on site at Canadian Zinc’s Prairie Creek operation. (Photo courtesy of Tom Morrison)

“It has always been a pleasure working with Mr. Steenkamp and I have formed a high opinion of his abilities as a study project manager. His understanding of the engineering profession is deep and comprehensive. He is at once forceful and diplomatic with a keen sense of when to apply those skills, which he possesses to a high degree. “

Tom Morrison, P.Eng. Chief Engineer, Canadian Zinc Corp.

“Johan is a detailed-oriented project manager with a strong knowledge of project controls. He has demonstrated an ability to start, manage and complete large complex projects on time and on budget. And, he has also demonstrated an ability to turn around projects managed by others that need to be brought back on schedule or back on budget.”

Brent Thompson, President, Mining & Minerals, Tetra Tech Inc.