It’s about to get a lot less dusty in Pond Inlet, Nunavut.
Nunavut Sealink and Supply is shipping an environmentally friendly dust suppressant called Dust Stop to the hamlet via sealift.
In summer, people walking along the roadside in the north Baffin community have to turn away when a vehicle drives by, because of the dust, said the hamlet’s mayor, Joshua Arreak.
“It’s pretty bad. I could say it’s terrible when it’s dry, the dust,” he said.
The company that makes Dust Stop, Cypher Environmental Ltd., hopes to see the product put on the community’s roads this summer. As a contractor for Baffinland Iron Mines, the Winnipeg-based company donated a one-time supply of the suppressant to the community.
Baffinland is paying to have a technician visit Pond Inlet to train hamlet workers in how to apply the dust-control product using water trucks.
While traditional dust suppressants are salt or oil-based, this newer product, sold first in 2016, is made of sugar, starch and minerals, said Todd Burns, president of Cypher Environmental.
It doesn’t create the run-off that a salt based suppressant does, and won’t rust vehicles, he explained.
“It’s designed to bind to any type of material on the road, so gravel, sand, silt and clay. Once the product is applied and dried, it actually becomes very hard so the road becomes more stable,” he said.
Baffinland is currently using the suppressant on its tote road that runs between the mine and Milne Port, and has ordered more for its airstrip and mine pit, Burns said. The mine has used the product since last year.
Arreak said it’s too soon for the community to say how the change impacts the environment or the wildlife around the mine. But he said there aren’t many caribou along the tote road.
“We want to believe that they’re coming back slowly,” he said.
Dust control at no cost to hamlet
In the community, which is 176 kilometres from the Mary River Mine, the hamlet has been using a canola-based product to suppress dust on the unpaved roads in Pond Inlet, Arreak said. It lasts around a week, but it sticks to cars and trucks, and they can’t always get it, he said.
According to Baffinland, the project is worth around $100,000, but it isn’t costing the community anything.
Burns said this new kind of dust suppressant is meant to last an entire summer and residual effects can be seen the next year if snow clearing doesn’t damage the coating.
The product was designed to be comparable, cost-wise, to other standard dust suppressants, said Burns. And, because it’s concentrated, it’s cheaper to send to the North, he said.
“We’re not shipping a whole bunch of water weight. You’re mixing it with several parts of water. It’s applied with a standard water truck, so there’s no specialized equipment that’s needed to apply it,” he said.
Dust Stop is also being used in Qikiqtarjuaq, and the company just won a tender to put it on an airstrip in Sanirajak.