Ice Airstrip, Hope Bay Mine, Nunavut
Landing a plane on ice is something few pilots will do in their careers. Creating a safe runway for those pilots is something only a few firms have the knowledge and skill to execute safely. Tetra Tech is a leader in the field.
Newmont Mining Corporation counts on Tetra Tech’s expertise to design an airstrip on a frozen lake, which will provide safe landings for more than 40 flights during the 5-month winter season.
Newmont’s Hope Bay Project sits in a remote location 190 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in Canada. Access by air provides a lifeline for twice-weekly crew changes and the supply of equipment and consumables.
Tetra Tech provided ice engineering expertise to design and implement a 2,400-meter-long runway on frozen Doris Lake at Hope Bay. The lake ice had to be thickened artificially by 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) to land a Boeing 737 on it.
This project supports Newmont’s focus on maintaining the highest safety standards at Hope Bay. Numerous calculations, weeks of ice thickening and monitoring, and a detailed risk review ensured the safety and stability of the airstrip. As an additional safety feature, this project implements the first GPS approach to an ice strip.
In addition, Tetra Tech’s success in getting the airstrip ready early saved the client money in using the airstrip rather than trans-shipping smaller loads.
Services provided include:
- Developing project-specific guidelines that enabled the client to use ice cover more effectively as a working platform
- Analyzing ice carrying capacity to calculate ice thickness for safely supporting jets and Hercules aircraft
- Developing site-specific safety procedures for working on thin ice, which were incorporated into the client’s standard operating procedures
- Providing training sessions on ice safety to on-site personnel
- Collecting ice thickness and shallow bathymetry data using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
- Profiling from the ice bathymetry using GPR, which identifies shoals to anticipate problem areas for heavy traffic, and collecting water volume data to comply with water withdrawal regulations stipulated by the Department of Fishery and Oceans Canada
- Measuring in situ ice strength to verify that built flood ice is comparable to natural lake ice
- Developing a detailed plan for constructing a 2,400-meter ice runway and completing the work earlier in the season than had been done in the past, translating into substantial savings for the client
To enhance the effectiveness of these services, Tetra Tech:
- Developed a real-time ice profiling system to measure ice and snow thicknesses and water bathymetry that addressed measurement errors due to varying snow conditions
- Developed a database system containing historic field data that enables more effective planning
Newmont Mining Corporation counts on Tetra Tech’s expertise to design an airstrip on a frozen lake, which will provide safe landings for more than 40 flights during the 5-month winter season