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Tibbit to Contwoyto winter road opens
Ice conditions good, says project manager

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 7, 2014

The Tibbit to Contwoyto winter road opened to trucking traffic on Jan. 30, right on schedule, according to Tim Tattrie, Nuna Logistics winter road project manager.

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The Tibbit to Contwoyto winter road opened to trucking traffic on Jan. 30, right on schedule. - NNSL file photo

Construction of the approximately 390-kilometre road, which serves the North's three diamond mines, was overseen by the company, part of the Nunasi family of companies.

"It looks like everything is going off by the book," Tattrie said, shortly before the road opened.

The road has opened in the last week of January every year for the past decade, Tatrie said.

Traffic is expected to start out slow, increasing in coming weeks as the ice thickens, he said. On average, about 135 trucks will use the road to ship materials to and from the diamond mines each day.

Road conditions are very good, he said.

The road is constructed and operated through a joint venture between Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. (Diavik Diamond Mine), Dominion Diamond Corporation (Ekati Diamond Mine), and De Beers Canada Inc. (Snap Lake Mine).

The first loads sent up the winter road from Yellowknife, destined for all three mines, had gross vehicle weights of up to 32,000 kilograms, or about half the maximum capacity, according to a news release from Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., last week.

"The road opened with 78 centimetres (28 inches) of ice. This is in line with previous years’ opening thicknesses,” stated Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture director Ron Near. Maximum gross vehicle weights of 63,500 kilograms require 99 centimetres.

“Companies are planning to transport about 255,000 tonnes or about 7,000 loads this year,” he added. 2014 is expected to be the busiest year for the ice road since 2007, according to the Diavik release. The company expects to transport nearly 90,000 tonnes, or about 2,700 loads, to its mine at Lac de Gras.

About 135 staff work on the road's construction and maintenance, stationed at three camps along the way to the mines, including dispatchers based in Yellowknife.

The winter road is expected to remain open for about 10 weeks. It usually closed between March 28 and April 2. Last year, it closed on March 30.

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