NNSL Photo/Graphic

NNSL photo/graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Winter road to open this weekend
Heavy snowfall, warm temperatures put Tibbitt to Contwoyto construction behind schedule

Meagan Leonard
Northern News Services
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

If all goes as planned, the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road will be open by Saturday.

NNSL photo/graphic

After a short delay due to heavy snowfall, the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road is anticipated to open this Saturday. - NNSL file photo

In a statement released Monday, Ron Near director of winter road operations at Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., said the road would be opening a week behind schedule due to heavy snowfall and above seasonal temperatures.

"Slow ice growth and a recent snow storm have caused a delay in opening," he said in an e-mail. "The heavy snowfall on the Northern portion of the road had to be cleared for flooding activities to resume. Winter road construction crews are addressing the critical areas of the project affected by the storm."

The ice road is one of the world's longest, stretching 600 kilometres across the tundra from Tibbitt Lake 60 kilometres east of Yellowknife to Contwoyto Lake, Nunavut.

Open for two months a year it is the only time those regions are accessible by ground transport and connects five diamond mines: Ekati, Diavik, Gahcho Kue, Snap Lake and Tehera.

Construction typically begins around Christmas each year and takes five to six weeks to complete - generally opening by Feb. 1.

In December, Near said this year was projected to be the busiest the road has been since 2007 when some 11,000 truckloads were hauled. This year up to 10,000 loads are expected between February and March as De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds continue construction of their shared Gahcho Kue mine currently scheduled to begin production this fall.

Major supplies such as diesel fuel, cement, tires and construction materials are the most common items shipped on the winter road.

The road is expected to open Feb. 6 and remain in use until March 31.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.