Volga-Dnepr keeps Baffinland iron ore production on track
31 / 05 / 2017
Russia-based all-cargo carrier Voga-Dnepr Airlines carried out 20 Ilyushin IL-76TD-90VD freighter flights over four weeks beginning at the start of April, moving heavy-duty trucks and trailers from North Bay to Mary River in North Baffin, Nunavut, Canada on behalf of Baffinland Iron Mines.
Baffinland had ordered extra trucks and trailers in order to increase its fleet capacity and ensure availability for transporting iron ore from the mine to the port 100km away – its existing equipment needing regular maintenance due to the harsh winter weather and ground environment at Mary River. Some of the additional vehicles had been successfully delivered by sealift last summer, but the rest were delayed due to ice having closed the required shipping lanes, rendering airfreight necessary to keep production flowing.
The vehicles being too tall to fit inside the aircraft, smaller tyres were fitted to reduce their height for transportation. It was, however, important to minimise the amount of dismantling and reassembly involved, given that temperatures can reach as low as -50 degrees Celsius on the island.
Other considerations included the short 6,500 ft runway at Mary River and the limited fuel supplies available there. Volga-Dnepr noted that the IL76’s extension ramp equipment and on-board cranes made loading and unloading a self-sufficient part of the operation. Extra crew were positioned in Canada to ensure the timeliness of the four-hour rotation.
Volga-Dnepr account manager Clair Gunn said: “Weather systems can come in very quickly in Mary Island so you have to be prepared. Having extra crew availability meant we were able to meet our delivery schedule even though we had two days of blizzards and white-out conditions during the flying programme.”