We assist our clients with means to effectively implement environmental strategies through environmental studies for mining, industrial and other projects. This work covers a broad range, from initial environmental evaluations for project feasibility, to environmental reclamation designs implemented at brownfields industrial sites. Our experience includes:
- Environmental Impact Assessments
- Due Diligence Evaluations
- Compliance Audits
- Planning and Permitting
- Engineering and Design
- Rehabilitation, Remediation and Reclamation
M3’s process group has a world-class reputation for developing highly reliable process plant designs, as well as innovative concepts for novel processes. M3’s experience extracting and refining materials with untapped potential into valuable products is founded in expertise in the following fields:
- Project Management
- Separation (Physical/Chemical/Electrical)
- Health/Environmental Protection
- Plant Design
Clients consistently trust M3 to solve unique sets of challenges for existing plants with simple yet elegant solutions that increase throughput while also enhancing worker safety and safeguarding the environment and nearby communities.
Start to Finish—Across Industries
M3 is a recognized veteran plant design firm, experienced in the extraction and production of precious metals, base metals, industrial minerals, rare-earth minerals, and other mineral products including lithium, graphite, potash, cobalt, and vanadium. From performing trade-off and viability studies to commissioning and client operations team training in the field, our group is active in all phases of project development. Other supporting process design experience includes food, agriculture, chemical, and manufacturing industries.
Examples of our plant design and operation experience include:
- Mineral Concentrators – Crushing, Grinding, Flotation, Thickening, Filtration and Other Techniques, SX-EW and other Hydrometallurgical Plants
- Extractive Leaching (Agitated and Heap) and Oxidation (Pressure and Atmospheric) Facilities
- Precious Metal Plants (Carbon, Resin, Merrill-Crowe)
- Refineries – Smelters* and Roasters
- High Temperature Equipment and Dryers – Cement and Metal Processing Plants
- Water/Wastewater Treatment for Reclaim or Environmental Discharge
- Manufacturing Facilities
*M3 has provided engineering services to many of the copper smelters in the American Southwest. This locally obtained, specialized experience has been applied in smelter operations/design worldwide.
- Project Development Guidance
- Process Flowsheet Development
- Metallurgical Test Work Management, Evaluation, and Advising
- Project Viability and Tradeoff Studies
- Formal Study Report Authorship and Qualified Person Review
- Project Benchmarking and Case Studies
- Financial Modeling
- Mass/Energy Balancing
- Client Process Invention, Patenting, and IP Protection
- Comminution (Crushing/Grinding) Circuit Modeling and Design
- Pre-Commissioning, Commissioning, Start-up, and Ramp-up Support
- Plant Optimization and Debottlenecking
- Plant Modernization and Repurposing
- Plant Audits and Inspections
- Operator Training
Across the globe, M3’s general arrangement (GA) group has planned and overseen design of countless state-of-the-art process facilities. Our focus is on transforming a process flow sheet into a physical plant by striking a careful balance between an efficient process – one which is operated and maintained in a cost-effective manner – and a design which meets all of the site’s environmental, logistical, and socioeconomic requirements.
M3’s GA group is involved in design development, from project conception in the viability stages through commissioning, as well as retrofit designs for improvement or redevelopment of existing facilities. Relying on collective interdisciplinary knowledge, we work closely with the process group to develop and coordinate an overall framework that all disciplines can use to complete a fully detailed design that can be built and commissioned into a successful operational facility.
Maintaining an up-to-date awareness of design progress and changes is essential. Using BIM technology, we provide both clients and M3 disciplines with 3D, data-rich models encompassing all facets of the design for purposes ranging from coordination and review to operational staff training. Upon client request, M3 can also develop 3D animations of facilities – including construction time lapse and operational phasing – for design review, marketing, and investment purposes.
Facility design entails more than innovative concepts on paper. It warrants continuous dialogue, a strong appreciation of the country, site, and culture of the project, and work alongside local personnel. Our team members originate from many varied backgrounds, from architects and engineers to industry-trained personnel, but all with the common trait of being astute listeners and resourceful problem solvers who think multi-dimensionally.
Site and Infrastructure Planning and Development
M3 is a leader in environmentally responsible site, infrastructure, and development planning for residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial sites around the world. Our team has extensive remote site project experience in which infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, power, water, and communications) are often non-existent. We actively engage clients, local communities, utility companies, and regulatory agencies to solve problems and implement environmentally conscious, sustainable solutions.
Decisions made early on during viability stages often dictate the outcome of a project. In this context, M3 adds significant value by leading interdisciplinary BIM coordination efforts for infrastructure. We devote time to solving challenges on paper long before they reach the field. In doing so, we deliver a streamlined product – one which is concise and conveys accurate information to our construction management teams.
M3 offers a full suite of civil engineering services:
- Utility routing and coordination
- Utility agency coordination
- Site planning
- Grading and drainage design
- Pavement design, evaluation, and maintenance evaluation
- Vertical and horizontal curve analysis
- Superelevation design
- Stopping site distance calculations
- Evaluation of maximum grades for vehicular access
- Geo-structural retaining wall systems
- Airstrip and helipad design
- Field reconnaissance
- Project Management and Construction Administration
Water Resources and Storm Water Management
M3 has extensive experience preparing surface hydrology calculations for both urban and rural sites, which include residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial projects. Our approach is not singular – certain projects merit a comprehensive understanding of existing hydrologic features and site-specific studies. For this reason, M3 may conduct a flood analysis and prepare a flood inundation map that reflects the unique hydrology of the project site.
For new process facilities, a key consideration is the establishment of separate water control protocol for contact (potentially contaminated) and non-contact (uncontaminated) water. This philosophy is essential for avoiding inadvertent contamination. For existing process facilities, M3 has a strong track record of rehabilitating brownfield sites contaminated with heavy metals, radionuclides, arsenic, and fluorides, among others.
M3 performs civil engineering analysis for industrial and institutional reservoirs, as well as leach pad design. Our experience with leach pads dates to the original Round Mountain Leach Pad. We regularly design stacking plans, perform slope evaluations, estimate fill volumes for each phase of leach pad design, and size diversion channels and containment ponds. Our experience dictates the importance of performing critical drainage analysis for all special containment projects. In the same vein, we conduct site-specific research on historic site flows and rainfall/climatic data to provide sound designs for pads, ponds, and dams.
M3 strives for continuity in design. That is, we implement innovative solutions which avoid creation of upstream or downstream hydrological effects that can negatively impact surrounding communities and the environment.
Wastewater Treatment Systems
M3 has reputable experience with a diverse number of wastewater treatment systems, both for treating industrial and domestic wastewater sources. Our engineers have worked with thickeners, clarifiers, and brine concentrators in metal processing and water treatment plants. These processes are essential in protecting the environment by allowing clients to reduce water use through reutilization or to treat it to comply with regulatory standards where it can be safely discharged back to the natural environment.
Our project experience with Wastewater Treatment Systems includes:
- Waste treatment plants for treating acid rock drainage from waste stockpiles (treated water is safe to return to the environment or be used as make-up water for the process)
- Wastewater treatment plants for domestic wastewater
- Septic systems and leach field design
- Reverse Osmosis (RO) for both potable and process water
- Sulfate removal processes for treatment of mining water
- General water treatment plants
- Fresh water makeup in saline groundwater
- Reverse osmosis systems for electrolyte make-up water
- Cyanide destruction water treatment plants
The natural environment is a resource worth protecting and here at M3 we have the professional knowledge and expertise to ensure our projects are developed with sustainability in mind.
For over thirty years, M3’s structural group has engineered an impressive set of iconic projects in some of the most remote regions of the world. While M3 also designs traditional buildings, much of our focus is on non-traditional buildings and large kinetic structures which include elements of both equipment and buildings. As such, we seek to fuse civil, structural, and mechanical engineering principles to deliver elegant, state-of-the-art solutions to unique sets of challenges. To that end, M3 has developed specific expertise in stress, vibration, fatigue, and seismic engineering analysis and design.
An Integrated Service
Our structural group has in-house capability to develop 3D models and fabrication drawings for structural steel and concrete reinforcement for domestic and international projects. In nearly 20 years of detailing service, M3 has produced fabrication drawings for over 95,000 tons of structural steel. With our engineers and designers working collaboratively in real time, M3 exercises a high degree of quality control from the outset; resulting in little to no field modification due to interferences with other disciplines. Work in this capacity allows M3 to deliver world-class fast track projects on schedule and provide increased value to clients through Building Information Modeling (BIM). Through design and construction, 3D models are combined in multiple BIM platforms to assist in interdisciplinary coordination and to aid M3 construction management teams with erection planning and progress tracking.
- Structural Engineering
- Structure and Mechanical Equipment Retrofit
- Vibratory and Kinetic Structure Design
- Vibration and Fatigue Analysis
- Structural Steel and Concrete Reinforcement Detailing
- Advanced Finite Element Modeling (Computer Aided Engineering – CAE)
- 3D Digital Scanning
- Hoisting and Rigging Analysis
- Seismic Isolation and Energy Dissipation Systems
- Special Systems Design, Specification, and Research
- Electrical Transmission and Distribution Structure Design
- Telecommunications Tower Structural Design
Building Evaluation, Rehabilitation and Renovation
M3’s structural group has extensive experience performing studies and structural audits for recommissioning of closed industrial operations – including repurposing equipment from other facilities, and modifications of operating plants to support new processes and equipment. In aging facilities, existing drawings are often incomplete or unavailable. Until recently, retrofit projects required dedicated field reconnaissance to document existing construction. Challenges created by limited access have traditionally made retrieval of this information not safely attainable. For these reasons, M3 can offer 3D scanning services and quickly collect point cloud data for existing facilities to accurately document as-built conditions and generate high-fidelity BIM models. Connecting the physical world to the virtual world with this 3D information reduces risk in design and significantly improves integration. The model can be utilized for several purposes, from finite element model development to creation of fabrication drawings which not only illustrate required modifications, but accurately reflect the actual built environment.
Finite Element Modeling
M3 is an industry leader in process facility and astronomical observatory design. Our experience with analysis and retrofit of failed third-party equipment has led to a deep knowledge base on the topics of structural dynamics and connection detailing. The nature of our work requires that we be well-versed in numerous finite element software packages. Accordingly, our staff of licensed structural engineers have expertise on a multitude of finite element topics and platforms. Our breadth of knowledge spans thermal, fatigue, and vibration analysis problems to seismic engineering and base isolation.
M3 is well-known in the industry for reliable heavy-duty conveyor study and detail design. Our mechanical, electrical and structural specialists design conveyors using C.E.M.A. standards and/or DIN standards and finite element analysis. We are often called upon to troubleshoot difficult conveying problems on a worldwide basis. We have designed numerous circuits using:
- Vibrating feeders
- Apron feeders
- Belt feeders
- In-plant conveyors
- Overland conveyors including regenerative downhill conveyers
- Radial stackers
- Grasshopper stacking systems
- Mobile stacking conveyors
- Magnet stations
We have considerable experience with stackers in material handling processes in industrial plants. This experience includes:
- General arrangement design by M3 with detail design by conveyor vendors,
- Complete design and detailing by M3, and
- Review and remediation by M3 of failed stackers that have been designed by others.
We have designed many Dust Control systems for new and existing plants. These systems have performed efficiently and contributed substantially to improved housekeeping and general plant maintenance. This work has included:
- Effective Dust Suppression/Collection systems in congested plants that presented challenges to ideal routing of duct.
- Greenfield plants with properly sized equipment and routing of collection ducts.
With our varied experience, we have the capability to handle the most challenging retrofit projects as well as greenfield plants of all sizes.
Fire Protection / Suppression
We have the knowledge and experience to specify and design site fire protection systems to meet the most rigorous demands of local fire codes and client selected risk insurers. We have experience with Fire Protection Systems on projects ranging from heavy industrial and mining facilities to commercial and institutional facilities. We have worked with:
- Wet and dry pipe sprinkler systems
- Preaction sprinkler systems
- High- and low-expansion foam systems
- Automatic dry chemical fire suppression systems
In addition to fire system design, we have a wealth of experience working with fire protection contractors to specify complete fire systems that meet project needs.
Whether your project is an office building, data storage center, aircraft hangar, mine site or anything in between, we can produce an in-house detailed design to safeguard your most important assets.
Fluid and Solid Systems
We have considerable experience with mining facility design in the western hemisphere. Most of these facilities have involved the engineering design and layout of process piping systems. To aid in the engineering design and layout of these systems, we utilize the latest versions of the following software packages:
- Fluid Modeling Software
- Pipe-Flo Professional
- Design Software
- AutoCAD Plant 3D
We provide solid piping designs based on centuries of collective experience, and we support that piping design with the creation of project specific P&IDs, generation of procurement documents such as RFQs, TBAs, and LORs, Material Take-offs during all phases of the project, as well as specifications for equipment, material, and installation.
Gas / Air Distribution
As a part of every heavy industrial and mining facility, compressed air systems operate, control and support the process and ancillary services relating to project. For this reason, efficient and reliable compressed air system design is paramount for project success.
Our experience in compressed air system design spans the globe, ranging from the high altitudes of Chile to the rainforests of Colombia, from the mountains of Armenia to the remote areas of Alaska. With this experience, we design compressed air systems with the goal of creating the most reliable systems with the possible lowest operating costs.
In addition to compressed air systems, M3 also has experience in the design and specification of other gas systems, including ones for pure oxygen, nitrogen, and so on.
We are experienced in design, energy management and plumbing for HVAC systems.
We have developed extensive indoor and outdoor lighting design for commercial and industrial projects in the United States, Mexico and South America using LED technology. We maintain compliance with international and local standards such as the Illuminating Energy Society (IES) Recommendations, National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements, International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and local codes such as the Pima County Outdoor Lighting Code. Our design includes lighting controls, occupancy sensors and daylight zone control.
We have in-house capability to perform lighting design photometric calculations through software such as LitePro and Visual Lighting Design.
We have a well-seasoned electrical engineering department. Regarding medium and high voltage systems, our senior licensed electrical engineers have years of experience in design and construction of electrical power transmission and distribution system facilities from 4.16 through 400 kV. Much of our experience has been obtained from working for and coordination with electric utility companies in the United States and in other countries, with the focus largely being on the interface between industrial projects and electrical utility companies.
We have in-house capability to perform electrical engineering analysis and design of industrial and commercial electrical power transmission and distribution systems using the latest edition of applicable software packages such as:
- PLS CAD for power line design,
- CYMCAP software for underground cable ampacity studies, and
- SKM Power Tools for Windows (PTW) software that includes the following modules:
- Dapper (load flow, voltage drop, and short circuit calculations),
- Arc Flash Evaluation (electrical equipment hazard evaluation and labeling),
- Captor (overcurrent protective device coordination study),
- Transient Motor Starting (TMS, motor starting study),
- Ground Mat (grounding electrode system design verification), and
- Hi Wave (harmonics study).
We have used SKM Power Tools and Electrical Analysis Software since 1987. Our power line design includes routing, plan and profile, staking, pole details and bill of materials, guying, and sag and tension calculations.
Our engineering personnel have experience including but not limited to the following:
- System redundancy and reliability
- Voltage and frequency stability and control
- Electrical load management and capacity analysis
- System Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)
- Overcurrent protective relaying and control
- Grounding and lightning protection systems
- Electrical cost estimating and scheduling
- Electrical engineering system analysis using computer software package
- Medium and high voltage substations through 400 kV
- Medium and high voltage power transmission and distribution lines through 400 kV
- Major electrical equipment procurement
- Electrical construction management and special inspections
- Electrical safety audits and code compliance
Grounding and Lightning Protection
We have in-house capability to perform grounding design. Our grounding and lightning protection design complies with international and local codes such as the IEEE 80 “Guide for Safety in AC Substation Grounding”, National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements and NFPA 780 “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems”.
Software we utilize includes SKM Power Tools for Windows (PTW) software with the Ground Mat (grounding electrode system design verification) module.
See the Instrumentation & Controls page.
We have an experienced Instrumentation and Controls staff capable of programming for a plant’s internal system controls, including programmable logic controllers (PLCs).