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By the numbers: Resupplying diamond mines over world's longest ice road

Levon SevuntsEye on the Arctic

Quick Facts: The Tibbit to Contwoyto Winter Road

First year constructed – 1982 

Original purpose – supply the Lupin Gold Mine at Contwoyto Lake, Nunavut Territory 

Length – 600 kilometres (360 miles) to Lupin with route being 87% over lake ice 

Width – 50 metres (160 feet) on lakes, narrower on portages (12-15 metres) 25-45 feet 

Ice thickness – Engineer proven to support light vehicle loads at 70 cms (27-28 inches) increasing to full highway truck loads as the ice thickens, often exceeding 107 cms (42 inches) 

Speed limits on ice: Loaded trucks – 25 km/hr (15 mph) with some areas 10 km/hr; empty trucks – 60 - 70 km/hr (35 mph) on “Express Lanes” – which are return (southbound lanes) built on larger lakes 

Speed limits on land (portages): – Mandatory portage speed is 30 km/hr, with trucks having to slow to 10 km/hr on and off portage 

RELATED: Ice road to Diamonds

Number of Portages – 64 portages are located along the route 

Maintenance Camps – Three camps that can accommodate 49 personnel in each are located at Dome Lake, Lockhart Lake and Lac de Gras 

Manager – Joint Venture Management Committee (JVMC) comprised of BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., Diavik Diamond Mines Inc. and DeBeers Canada Inc. 

Road Constructor – Nuna Logistics Ltd (main route), RTL Robinson Enterprises Ltd. (secondary route) are contracted by the JVMC 

Engineering – EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. 

Security – Deton Cho /Scarlet Security Services, historically SECURECheck (2000 – 2009)

Historical Winter Road Statistics (2000-2011)

Year

Operating Period

Total Tonnes Hauled (northbound)

Number of Truckloads (northbound)

Days Open

2001

Feb 5 – Apr 15

245,586

7981

70

2002

Jan 26 – Apr 16

256,915

7735

81

2003

Feb 1 – Apr 2

198,818

5243

61

2004

Jan 28 – Mar 31

179,144

5091

64

2005

Jan 26 – Apr 5

252,533

7607

70

2006

Feb 5 – Mar 27

177,674

6841

50*

2007

Jan 28 – Apr 9

330,002

10,922

63

2008

Jan 28 – Mar 31

245,585

7484

55

2009

Feb 1 – Mar 22

173,195

4847

42

2010

Feb 4 - March 21

120,020

3508

36**

2011

Jan 28 - March 31

239,000

6832

55.5


* Road shut down early due to thin ice conditions – approx 1200 loads had to be flown into the mines in the summer/fall of 2006

** Due to warmer temperatures, the joint venture was forced to adopt night time only hauling from March 3-16 

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.