Salt Shortage Projected for Winter 2018 and Beyond

31 Aug 2018 6:00 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

Increasingly it appears that for 2018 there may be serious salt inventory shortages.  The reasons for this inventory shortage include:

·        A late season ice storm in the spring of 2018 depleted much of the salt inventory;

·        The Compass Minerals mine in Goderich, Ontario (the worlds largest salt supplier) experienced an elevent week strike this summer (Please see https://www.compassminerals.com/info/news/statement-from-compass-minerals-goderich-mine-regarding-strike/. This has seriously affected the amount of salt available for shipping and stockpiling in Ontario and other areas.  Salt is typically stockpiled during the summer months.   It is impossible to replenish the stockpiles before winter;

·        Another major producer, Cargill, is having difficulty with maintaining supply because of a water leak in their Cleveland mine.    Please see: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/cleveland-salt-mine-attributes-salt-shortage-to-water-leak-winter-storms;

·        Municipalities are ordering more salt due to liability concerns and to deal with increasing inclement weather events which may be due to a warming climate; and,

·        Municipalities are often given priority over private contractors because of contractual obligations.

Many winter maintenance contractors and suppliers have been notified that there would be little or no supply from traditional sources.  As a result, suppliers are sourcing salt from all over the world.  However, transportation costs are higher and logistics are complex. The global procurement process for salt is full of risk as it relates to quality, cost and logistics.   Not surprisingly a reduced supply and increased demand is causing a great deal of insecurity and uncertainty. Undoubtedly a substantial price increase is anticipated in the price of salt.

Industry professionals are considering contingency plans to address the challenges surrounding the projected salt shortage. Beyond applying leading practices in winter maintenance as taught through Smart About Salt Council’s (SASC’s) “Essentials of Salt Management” course (available in class and online) some ideas include the following:

·        Work with suppliers to secure salt as soon as possible.  This likely means that winter maintenance contractors will have to pre-pay for salt and find areas to stock pile the product in an environmentally responsible manner;

·        Develop a menu of service levels:  Not all properties require the same service level.  In some cases, contractors may be able to close off/restrict access to certain areas, this could reduce salt considerably; and,

·        Contractors are encouraged to consider using segmented ploughs, using treated salt when available, pre-wetting salt, enhanced training, calibration of equipment, locating snow piles judicially etc.  We will do all we can to manage the situation.  

For more information about the volunteer-led, not-for-profit Smart About Salt Council (SASC) and our collaborative programs please visit www.smartaboutsalt.com.

 


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