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Early results show ice road thicker than usual
Tibbitt to Contwoyto ice road expected to open end of January

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 23, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - On the 30th anniversary of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto ice road, colder weather and less snow between mid-November and early December has resulted in thicker ice than previous years.

NNSL photo/graphic

The director of the 568-kilometre Tibbitt to Contwoyto ice road is expecting the number of loads to double this season from last year to about 7,200. - photo courtesy of Diavik Diamond Mines Inc.

Erik Madsen, director of winter road operations for the road's Joint Venture Management Committee, said early test results show the ice is four to six inches thicker. As a result, he expects the road to open near the end of January. Besides the colder weather, less snow has also contributed to thicker ice because snow acts as an insulator from the cold and slows the freezing process, Madsen explained.

He said work crews are scheduled to begin constructing the ice road on Dec. 27 at the Dome Lake maintenance camp and then camps at Lockhart Lake and Lac de Gras are expected to open shortly thereafter.

Madsen also said that for the second year, a secondary route will be constructed through Prosperous Lake north of Gordon Lake. He expects this route to open seven to 10 days after the main route.

The anticipated number of loads headed to mining camps is expected to double to an estimated 7,200 loads and 240,000 tonnes, compared to last year's 3,506 loads and an approximate 121,000 tonnes, he said.

The reason for this increase is that the Diavik, Ekati and Snap Lake diamond mines are planning to haul more supplies this year, especially fuel and cement, he explained.

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto ice road is 568 kilometres long, beginning at Tibbitt Lake 60 km east of Yellowknife and running through to the north end of Contwoyto Lake in Nunavut, according to the Joint Venture Management Committee's website. On lakes, the width of the road can reach a maximum of 50 metres.

The Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road Joint Venture Committee comprises BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. and De Beers Canada Inc.

Last season, the ice road closed on March 24, 2010.

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