A state-of-the-art gym, tasty meals prepared by a professional cook, comfortable accommodations with hot showers, and thick fluffy towels: Sound like an upscale hotel? Think again. Modular workforce housing, also known as "man camp accommodations" can offer all the amenities of home for workers living far from their families for as much as six to nine months of the year. Such man camps exist at minerals industry sites all over the state of Alaska, as well as at sites for the oil and gas, geothermal, environmental cleanup, and construction industries.
An addition to accommodations, man camps usually include a kitchen, dining area, shower units, locker rooms, restrooms, and laundry facilities. Special amenities may include a lounging area, commissary, recreation room, and gym or fitness room. In addition, other mobile units are devoted to site operations, including power generation, telecommunications, water purification, and wastewater systems. Project offices, meeting rooms, a guard house, and first aid station may complete the site.
Ready-to-go complete modular man camps are often referred to as "turnkey operations." Most commonly, these camps are set up with either ATCO modular units or "soft-sided" units (tents). The ATCO units are similar to mobile homes on skids. They can be delivered by aircraft, truck, helicopter, landing craft, or barge. For more remote camps, soft-sided units are used. Although they take longer to set-up, tents can be just as comfortable as ATCO units and are easily broken down and moved by aircraft or slung beneath a helicopter. Many mining camps use fabric tension structures made by Hansen WeatherPORT, which are made of a heavy-duty, leak-proof rubberized fabric and can withstand up to lone hundred-mile per hour winds. They can be ordered with or without insulation, and each building is provided with a Toyo stove.
Alaska Minerals, Inc. (AkMin) provides set-up for ten- to thirty-man camps. "Our target size is under twenty-four people because of the easier permitting with DEC," says owner Michael Smith. "We will do larger camps, but then we have to have engineering for septic and a well." Sleeping units are usually 12 by 10 feet for one to two people, with an approximate interior standing height of 8.5 feet. The kitchens are 16 feet wide and can be 24,30, or 40 feet long, with a peak of 10.5 feet. AkMin puts up five to ten camps a year (not all for mines), such as the Tetlin project for Contango...