Green Party leader resurrects idea of ‘hover barges’ across northern Ontario’s ice roads
A Sudbury mining innovation group says the province should consider the use of hover barges before embarking on a multimillion-dollar road construction project linking the Ring of Fire, a mineral-rich region in northern Ontario, to the provincial highway network.
Doug Morrison, president and chief exeuctive officer of the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), said the Sudbury-based innovation lab has identified the use of hover barges — large-capacity transport machines that could potentially float on the region’s already-existing ice roads — as one cost-effective alternative to transporting materials.
“There’s a crying need for more supplies and material to be moved into the fly-in reserves, and this is one way to try and address that problem,” Morrison said. Hover barges are marine vessels with air cushioning systems designed specifically for operation in shallow water, soft ground or over ice.
According to Argo Engineering, an American hover barge consultancy firm, “hoverbarges have been used for payloads ranging from 50 to 450 tonnes with designs commissioned up to 2,500 tonnes.” Morrison said CEMI introduced the prospect of using hover barges to major mining companies with a stake in the Ring of Fire, but the idea met with indifference.
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