When mining company Baffinland Iron Mines increased its iron ore production quota, Volga-Dnepr Airlines was on hand to help bring in extra equipment.
Baffinland produced and transported 3.2 million tonnes of iron ire from the mine to the port site 100 kilometres away in 2016, and much of the equipment at its Mary River operation in North Baffin, Nunavut arrived by sea during the summer but no further deliveries would have been possible until July or August due to ice shutting down shipping lanes.
Realising it needed to increase the size of the truck and trailer fleet, Baffinland turned to Volga-Dnepr for advice moving heavy and outsize cargo as well as the Ilyushin IL-76TD-90VD operating to Arctic runways.
Extra equipment was also needed but the trucks were too tall to fit inside the IL76’s cargo cabin so Volga-Dnepr engineers had a to find a solution which would require minimal dismantling and re-assembly.
The solution was putting smaller tyres on the tractor units for transportation, while the Volga-Dnepr team worked with the Ilyushin Design Bureau to address the issue of the short 6,500 foot runway at Mary River and solved the issue of using the least amount of fuel in order to safeguard the limited fuel supplies on the island.
Using the aircraft’s extension ramp equipment and onboard cranes ensured the programme was self-sufficient in terms of loading and unloading.
After gaining the necessary approvals from Transport Canada, Volga-Dnepr commenced a four-week programme of 20 flights at the start of April, which included an extra crew in Canada to ensure the timeliness of the flight operations for the four-hour rotation from North Bay to Mary River and back again.
Volga-Dnepr account manager, Clair Gunn, who worked with specialists at London Stansted Airport and Ulyanovsk on the project says: “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.”
Baffinland Iron Mines’ chief procurement officer, Sandeep Kumar says: “When we started the search for a solution, we were apprehensive of finding a workable and reliable solution in the short timeframe that we had ahead of us.”
“It is to the credit of the Volga-Dnepr team, who provided us with commercial, technical and project management expertise through the process to come up with a detailed and reliable plan.”