By Dr. Allen Alper, PhD Economic Geology and Petrology, Columbia University, NYC, USA
Interview with Ted Pickell, Chairman and CEO of Stewart World Port: North America’s Most Northern Ice Free Port
Ted Pickell, Chairman and CEO of Stewart World Port, a Canadian company committed to responsible port development, management, and operations, guided by core values of safety, environmental stewardship, high ethical, economic, and social standards, told us the Port opened in March 2016. They encourage mutually beneficial, strong local community partnerships and regional growth. Stewart World Port was founded in 2012 with a board and senior management team with over 150 years’ experience in engineering, heavy construction, operations, logistics, and mining. It is North America’s most northern ice free port, located at the end of the Portland Canal, with paved access to British Columbia and Alberta. They provide clean, reliable, economic port services and will for decades. They foster economic development in remote communities of Northern British Columbia. Stewart Port serves the needs of Breakbulk, Project Cargo, Forest Products, and Bulk customers in Northern BC and around the world. Stewart World Port’s modern facility offers the latest in loading, storage, and crane technology to ensure customer cargo is handled efficiently and effectively. Situated at the bottom of the BC's Golden Triangle, Stewart Port is looking forward to serving all the operating mines in the north and in the eastern-southern Yukon and has several mining companies, who want to ship over their modern, environmentally-friendly port.
Dr. Allen Alper: This is Dr. Allen Alper, Editor-in-chief of Metals News, interviewing Ted Pickell, Chairman and CEO of Stewart World Port. Could you tell our readers/investors about Steward World Port and how you're serving the mining community and others?
Ted Pickell: Sure. We're a new port. We opened in March of 2016, with our first cargo coming in. It was a very good year for us in 2016. We have not secured any mining concentrate yet, but we have two or three clients from the mining world that want to ship over our port. The break bulk cargo we brought in last summer, the two big clients were General Electric, with windmill equipment, and we enjoyed a very good summer's work with them, and the other client was Air Liquide for oil field, gas processing equipment going into Alberta. There again, a large client, both of these, and very successful cargo. There was no damage and no injuries.
We're located at the north end of the Portland Canal, and it's a nice free port, very deep. The shallowest water in the canal channel coming up there is 350 feet deep, and the narrowest part of the channel is 1.5 kilometers or a little over a mile wide. We're a break bulk port. We're set up to handle handymax and panamax vessels, and our ultimate goal is to secure large quantities of mineral concentrate, being zinc, copper, and also there's a world-class coal deposit, metallurgical coal, less than 200 kilometers from this port.
At some point we see this cargo going over our port. In the meantime, other cargos would be going out: wood products, be it pellets, logs, or the likes of that. We have considerable lay-down area for our port and room to build large sheds for the concentrate. The dock has been designed specifically to handle break bulk, and concentrate out. We have rails embedded in the concrete deck for the ship loader to run up and down the deck so that the vessel doesn't need to have to be moved to fill a different hold. Our ship loader is designed for 3,000 ton an hour, a large ship loader, so that we can get a vessel in, loaded and out of there in a short timeframe.
Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds great. Sounds like it's a very modern port.
Ted Pickell: Yes, sir. We designed and built it to minimize any environmental issues that could come up. The deck actually slopes a little bit to the center, where we have drains in the deck should anything ever get spilt, once we can't pick it up in bulk or dry, all these drains will be connected to piping that'll go back into a vat, so that whatever is spilt that we can't pick up dry will be washed back into a vat and processed. We're very fussy about how we handle the environment, and every effort's been put into this dock and a lot of extra cost to make it as environmentally up-to-date as the engineers could do it.
Dr. Allen Alper: Wow! That sounds great. Could you tell me a little bit about your background and your team’s?
Ted Pickell: Yes. I was born in northern British Columbia, and have spent my whole life in the north. I've been in the contracting business since I was 16 years old, and worked on many mines and mining roads, some of the more rugged projects in the north. We specialized in rugged and difficult projects, Arctic Construction, and we've been building for others for 60 years, so we thought it was time to build something for ourselves, so we secured a 150-year lease with the district of Stewart, and built this dock, wharf, and we're going to operate it for the duration. I have a good team, with some local fellas and gals in Stewart, and I also have my son, Brad, and granddaughter Breanne, who are on the board and very involved with this project. They just work with Stewart World Port.
Dr. Allen Alper: Are your companies private or public?
Ted Pickell: They're both private, sir. Both Arctic and Stewart World Port are private.
Dr. Allen Alper: Excellent! Would you like to tell me a little bit more about your plans for 2017?
Ted Pickell: 2017, we do not see any mineral concentrate coming in. A couple of the larger mines that we're talking to are a couple of years out, but we'll continue to move windmill equipment and processing units for the oil field, oil industry, gas industry, as well as wood products. Up until recently, the wood products in that area have not had a port to go to, and the area has low quality wood. Now that there's a port there, they can get this product out at a reasonable rate, we see that industry increasing.
Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that sounds very good. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven't asked about or you would like to mention that you think would be of interest to our readers? A lot of our readers are mining engineers and mine management. They're all over Canada, the US, South America, Australia, Europe and Asia.
Ted Pickell: Stewart is at the bottom end of what's known as the Golden Triangle in British Columbia that runs right up to the Yukon, and there are a couple of mines very close to start up. Ascot has the old Premier mine. They've secured a bunch of new ore there, and they're only a year or two away from starting construction. They're 25 kilometers from town. There are a huge amount of different mines in the north and in the eastern, southern Yukon. All that ore should be destined for Stewart, and we plan on securing that concentrate going out.
We're operating this port a little differently from a lot of ports. I was brought up under the Golden Rule and that's the fellow with the gold makes the rules, so the mining company comes along and says, "We want this and that," that's exactly what they'll get. We're a service provider. I've been in the service industry all my life with Arctic Construction, and we'd never have been successful if we didn't provide service. This port will provide service. What the client wants done, we will do.
Dr. Allen Alper: Well, that's great. I think they're lucky to have you. That's really fantastic to have someone who knows how to service a customer and take care of them, and have an up-to-date port.
Ted Pickell: Yes. We're quite proud of it, and our employees are all very proud of what they've done and what they've built there.
Dr. Allen Alper: That's great.
11421 Alaska Road
Fort St. John, BC