A fierce north wind greeted us on our very first visit to the site as we came to meet and greet with AS Oscar Sundqvist’s groundbreaking team. We turned up on the 50th birthday of project manager Helge Bækø, who warmly welcomed us with cake. Helge and site manager Geir Koppen gave us the impressive facts and figures of the progress on site, as well as a thorough run-through of the local history.
Helge oversees administrative, economic and technical matters during the groundbreaking phase, while Geir coordinates and supervises the crew at work. He has been with the company since -87. One of the oldest contractor companies in the North, AS Oscar Sundquist does drilling, blasting, road, pipe and other civil works. Over the past ten years they have grown from 25 employees to 80, partly because of a drilling contract with the mine at Bjørnevatn.
Geir and Helge both live in Bjørnevatn, very close to the iron ore mine. ‘Kaboom’ was a familiar soundtrack even before they began working together. ‘Sometimes when we went to school, the windows all broke at the same time’. Blasts from the mine frequently set the nearby houses shivering and the two men to their career paths.
Our playground for next week (and the years to come). Before the groundwork started, the project management slept out one night at the proposed hospital site in order to obtain acceptance from the place and its spiritual forces (including the underworld creatures) © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
The groundbreaking team posing in their sparkling clean office in their best woolly socks © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Helge and his team will level the site ready for construction to an amazing accuracy of a 30 mm tolerance. The top layer with vegetation, roots and anything that can survive for a year and regrow, is set aside for later use as per the landscape architect’s design. Very little gets thrown away and most materials are put to good use. Some of the rock from the new Kirkenes hospital site rock was used to extend the Kirkenes airport runway for example. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Local ‘success tart’ for the occasion © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Every mud blob, rock and turf has a destination and it is Helge’s and Geir’s job to mastermind the relocation of some 120 000 cubic meters of soil from the hospital site. One cubic meter of blasted rock turns into 2 or 2.5 cubic meters when loose, so 20 000 cubic meters of solid rock means double of that once blasted. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
This lovely pink cable is used to blasting rock. There are three major ways to induct a blast. The electric cable, the old cowboy movie way (the slow burning wire) and something called non el, a non-electrical high-intensity explosive. Clicking the device kickstarts a series of mini explosions inside a thin pipe filled with explosives, burning 6000 meters per second. We’re excited. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen