The question of how to make underground contracts better doesn’t have an easy answer. From the moment a project is conceived to the moment a contract is written, the project path is beset by obstacles and opportunities for the parties to mistrust one another and misuse their influence over the project to try to protect themselves from real or perceived risks. The results are ineffective relationships between the parties, inequitable contracts, and costly disputes. In short, we find our industry in the same position that the USNCTT described in Better Contracting for Underground Construction. We have made some strides, but we face many of the same problems, as well as some new ones.
Recognizing this, the Underground Construction Association of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (UCA of SME) took on the task of creating this manual. Like Better Contracting for Underground Construction, it aims to recommend improvements to underground contracting practices. However, unlike its predecessor, this manual also suggests better practices during other stages of the project, when decisions are made that will later affect the contract positively or negatively. By surveying the factors that affect contracting from project inception to contract award, we hope to present a clear image of the role that each project participant must play in promoting better contracts—and thus better projects.