Fortis is a privately owned company based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Fortis evolved from its parent company, Northern Strands Co. Ltd. which began in the mining industry in 1970 as a distributor of mine hoisting ropes. As the customer base grew, market demands changed, and the company started to distribute and then manufacture hoist rope attachments and fittings. In conjunction with these changing market demands, the company recognized the need for supplying services to customers. These services included rope changes, skip changes, accident remediation, de-rope, re-rope, problem solving, specialized equipment, and custom manufacturing. The volume of requests from Northern Strands customers could only be met through the development of a separate company and as a result, Fortis Engineering & Manufacturing Inc. was created.
In 2006, Fortis took on all the manufacturing, machining, and contract work that had previously been done through Northern Strands. At that time, Fortis began to grow its manufacturing capacity by producing more attachments and fittings. A machine shop was added in 2010 and more products were produced in-house. The fabrication and machine shop grew to accommodate delivery of customer orders.
The expansion of the mining industry in Saskatchewan contributed to the growth and evolution of Fortis. The leadership group within Northern Strands and Fortis recognized the increasing demand for professional services within the mining industry. The company met that opportunity by recruiting multi-skilled, highly trained, experienced employees through Fortis in order to supplement the professional services already being delivered by Northern Strands. Fortis has assembled a group of professional employees who come with the skill set to safely, effectively, and efficiently complete a diverse range of mine-related projects. This team is supported by an experienced fabrication and manufacturing division that can produce quality products used within the mining industry.
Fortis has successfully forged relationships with a number of customers including Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Agrium, Mosaic, Cameco, Nyrstar, Rio Tinto, and Agnico along with many other mines and mining service companies. The projects that Fortis works on are geographically located in Saskatchewan, as well as at international locations. Fortis delivers specialized consulting and project services to its customers. These services are for such projects as construction, decommissioning, regular maintenance, and emergency situations.
In the last two years, Fortis has been collaborating with a large mine contracting firm at a local mine site. Fortis Mining Division has worked on two shaft pre-sinks (production and service), as well as completed the shaft liners from minus 50 to minus 7. Fortis was also awarded the contract to supply and install the dump doors, safety doors and all brattices in both head frames. Furthermore, the Manufacturing Division continues to complete projects for the local site on a regular basis.
Fortis has assisted mines with regular maintenance projects through the development of written procedures for complete de-rope and re-rope projects at potash mines. Fortis has also written procedures to replace cheese weight support structures which were deteriorating as a result of corrosion. In this case, Fortis not only wrote the procedures but also supplied the custom cheese weight structures and performed the service work. The written procedures and experienced personnel that Fortis provided to this project resulted in almost zero downtime for the customer. The company has also performed a complete skip change while minimizing the operational impact on the mine. The experienced miners, supervisors, and project managers at Fortis were able to complete the change-over in less than a week. Fortis’ professionalism was recognized by the Mine Site Coordinators, thus proving a large part of the company’s commitment to excellence, safety, and customer satisfaction.
Fortis often receives requests for emergency assistance where an unforeseen situation has caused the shutdown of a critical aspect of the mine itself. In these situations, customers are looking for a provider who will resolve the issue safely and efficiently. Specifically, Fortis has worked to repair a skip crash caused by excessive rope slip and rope slip caused by the accidental overloading of the skip. In both cases, Fortis’ expertise led to the completion of the repairs safely and in a timely manner.
The ownership and management team at Fortis believes in the importance of safety in the workplace. Over the past several years, Fortis has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from its experienced mining professionals and from the many different mine sites, both locally and internationally, on which Fortis has completed projects. Fortis has been compiling that safety knowledge and is integrating that knowledge into its Safety Management System.
Fortis is actively working to achieve certification in OHSAS 18001 Health and Safety; ISO 9001 Quality; ISO 14001 Environment by mid-2013. Fortis believes that its determination in creating an injury-free work environment through the ISO policies and procedures is evidence of its commitment to safety.
Today, Fortis continues to handle all mining-related service work and custom manufacturing for a diverse customer base. The company is positioned to identify customer requirements and is uniquely prepared to address those requirements by leveraging internal talent. Fortis has the experience and knowledge to understand customer requirements and the skills and equipment necessary to address those requirements through the delivery of professional services and quality products.