Melford signs engineering, land-clearing contracts

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH — Melford International Terminal recently inked two important agreements as it advances plans for a container terminal in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough. The company awarded a contract for engineering design services to Colorado-based BergerABAM, and site-clearning contract to Port Hawkesbury Paper.

In an interview with The Journal, Melford’s Vice President of marketing, Richie Mann, said the most significant of the two is the engineering agreement.

After it issued a request for proposals last fall, Melford received seven or eight “quality submissions from international firms,” he said. “We brought two back for another round of interviews.”

BergerABAM did work for Melford International Terminal in the early stages of the project. “And they’ve got an extensive history in port development, terminal development, with SSA Marine, our partner in Seattle,” said Mann. The engineering firm is partnering with Stantec, which has offices in N.S., as well as Bedford-based Strum Engineering.

“Both (Stantec and Strum) have worked with us over the years,” said Mann. “They’re two very reputable local firms with a history in the project.”

The engineering companies will work with Melford International Terminal, and its partner SSA Marine, “to do the final terminal design and engineering to make sure we are ready to go with a bid process when the time is right,” said Mann. “They’ll provide the expertise that we don’t have to be ready to take the final steps before construction.”

The company signed a contract with Port Hawkesbury Paper to clear the project site at the Melford Industrial Reserve along the Strait of Canso. “We’ll probably do that right after the end of summer, when the bird nesting season is done,” said Mann. “They’ll take everything off of it for either use in the mill or their biomass.”

The major remaining step continues to be securing a carrier contract. “That is really the missing element,” said Mann. “No one has every attempted to downplay the significance of that.”

With a labour agreement in place and other items taken care of, Mann said Melford is “pretty comfortable that we can present to carriers the cost of putting cargo through — and we’re pretty darn competitive.”

The terminal will be constructed to optimize the efficient loading/unloading of today’s largest container ships, with an emphasis on direct vessel-to-rail transfer. It will be the closest port to Europe and Asia (via Suez Canal). The site features a naturally deep, ice-free habour.