The James Bay Winter Road will be built to a more "robust" standard this season due to the traffic to and from the decommissioned Victor Mine site.
The 311-kilometre road connects First Nation communities on the James Bay coast including Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moosonee.
The ice road is built and maintained on an annual basis. It is operated and managed by the Kimesskanemenow LP.
The company is currently in the planning stages, getting subcontractors lined up and signing agreements with the communities.
“We hired our staff and we’ve done orientation and all that stuff. We’re hoping to get started in the next week or so,” said Nancy Wood, the president of Kimesskanemenow LP.
The road is typically open to light traffic like pickup trucks by mid-January and to heavier traffic by early February.
Golder, the environmental engineering consulting firm that was hired by De Beers Group to oversee the closure of the decommissioned Victor Mine, will be using the road to haul the equipment and remaining infrastructure out of the mine.
“We’ve just finished an agreement with them,” Wood said. “And they’re providing a financial contribution towards upgrading the road.”
The Victor mine opened in 2008 and stopped operating in 2019.
Because of the mine traffic, the James Bay road will be built to a more robust standard, Wood said, adding that with the increased road standard, the company is looking to hire more people.
“Ice crossings are made to a thicker standard. And the bridge crossings, we have more money to make them better so heavier loads can go over them,” she said.
Wood declined to disclose how much funding the company received from the federal and provincial governments this season. Last year, the combined funding sat at $1.2 million.
“We’re hoping it’ll be a good season,” she said.