Municipal and provincial government crews from around the Maritimes have been scrambling in recent days to top up their supplies of road salt as a result of the closure of the potash mine in Sussex, N.B.
The mine was always a major salt supplier for much of New Brunswick. Any salt that wasn't used in the Maritimes was exported offshore through the Port of Saint John.
"Salt has been moving through the (Port of Saint John) for decades, and the change is now we're an importer of salt rather than an exporter,” says Jim Quinn, CEO of the port.
As a result, the province’s Department of Transportation had to search for a new primary supplier of road salt.
"We went through a competitive bidding process. We had five different bids that we received and K&S, which is a Maritime company, was the low bidder," says New Brunswick Transportation Minister Bill Fraser.
The government has a contract with the Pugwash, N.S., mine to purchase 150,000 tons of road salt. Fraser says this year they had no choice but to go out of province.
"The problem is, with the closer of the potash mine is Sussex, the provider that we did have, which was taking the salt from the mine, they notified us that they wouldn't be able to fulfill the contract," says Fraser.
Tory MLA Bruce Northrup for the Sussex area says there is concern about the quality of salt that will be on New Brunswick roads this winter. He says it may not meet the standards of the potash mine.
But the government says the salt that is coming meets all their specifications.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.