By Camp Foreman, Veikko Wennstrom
Hauling fuel is a reality of mining in Northern Ontario. Winter is the best time to do this, because we can build an ice strip that can handle a larger plane. Winter planes can carry up to three times more than the float planes we use in summer.
We start in early winter by plowing the ice at Koper Lake to make it thicker. Once the ice reaches 26 inches, we start flying in fuel. When a planeload arrives, we place a ramp at the door and our handlers roll the drums off the plane and load it back up with empty drums, garbage drums or whatever we have in camp that needs to go out.
Working as a team, we safely place the fuel drums in snowmobile toboggans and head to camp where they are unloaded with an excavator and positioned so they are ready to be slung into the environmental protection berm, if needed, to contain leaks. Hand signals are used to help the operator place the loads. We often receive four planeloads totaling 96 drums in a day.
It’s a lot of work getting all the fuel into camp, but worth it. Our thanks to Randy Oinonen who was on the excavator and Brandyn Chum and Elias Whitehead who received the planes, transported the fuel and aided in loading it into the berms.