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Underground salt mining has been a profitable industry in Western New York for more than 150 years. Over the decades, a network of active mining operations in the region grew to encompass an area larger than Manhattan. In the early 1990s, a chain reaction of flooding forced the shutdown of these mines. Several years later, American Rock Salt purchased the mineral rights for 10,000 acres of undisturbed underground salt reserves along with 200 surface acres near Mount Morris, New York, for the establishment of a new mine. From the initial ground breaking, American Rock Salt mine took more than three years to build and was the first underground salt mine constructed in the U.S. since the 1950s. Today, it is the largest single producer of salt in the country, supplying nearly 10% of the nation’s total salt needs.
Through the experience, leadership, and diligence of our project management team, O’Connell was hired to provide all aspects of electrical, substation, and transmission construction for this landmark project. We were awarded the work under multiple contracts not only from the owner and developer, but also from the various contractors responsible for specialized construction at the site.
Before construction of the mine could begin, O’Connell was tasked with providing temporary power to the site. For eighteen months we maintained a 34KV system that powered equipment involved in the sinking and lining of the mine’s two 1200-foot-deep mine shafts, the ventilation systems, and all lighting.
Because a power tie-in did not exist for the new mine, the utility had to build a new substation to service the facility. O’Connell has hired to constructed the permanent 18MVA power distribution substation located at the site along with the five miles of overhead 115KV transmission line to connect the two. Governed by land use management initiatives that are in place to protect and preserve the region’s watershed and unique soil quality, installation of the transmission lines across the Genesee Valley required our close involvement and coordination with the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets.
The electrical construction portion of our work encompassed everything from the substation to all the aboveground and underground facilities to the truck and rail load-out systems. This included all mining, crushing, and conveyance operations, the site’s automated computer control network, permanent lighting, and electrical equipment. We also installed the fiber optic and communications networks that service the computer control, data, security, fire, and video surveillance systems that extend to the furthest reaches of the site, both topside and below.
This project served to help bolster O’Connell’s expertise in transmission line construction as well as elevate our regional dominance and industry leadership as a top electrical contractor.