To support operations in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, a group of mining companies proposed a port development for Bathurst Inlet, or Hannigayok, as it’s known in Inuinnaqtun. The project included the port, a fuel tank farm, airstrip, maintenance shop, and work camp, along with a 200 km all-weather road to haul supplies in and precious metals out.
For the project’s environmental noise assessment, we conducted a detailed study to predict noise levels during the construction and operation phases, and assess how that noise would affect people in the area.
Since the project included various infrastructure components and construction activities, we predicted and analyzed a number of disparate noise sources including operations from the port, airstrip, and quarry; ship, road, and air traffic; and pile driving and blasting activities, which, along with the noise levels of specific vessels, were also analyzed for their impacts underwater.
Once we predicted project-related noise levels, we evaluated how that noise might affect human activity near the project. Noise-sensitive areas near the project included temporary and permanent work camps and four traditional Inuit hunting camps.
For the work camps, we examined the potential for sleep disturbance and found that helicopter noise and other nearby noise sources could disrupt night-shift workers sleeping during the day. Our acoustics team found that this disruption could be lessened or eliminated by managing noisy activities or improving the outdoor-indoor noise reduction capacity of sleeping quarters.
When studying the hunting camps, we found that construction noise might affect one of the four—especially if work occurred at night. We recommended consulting with the community before and during road construction and managing construction activities to avoid nighttime work near the camps.
For the assessment, we built a software model that included international-standard algorithms for sources like road traffic and aircraft noise. For blasting noise, we conducted predictions to ANSI standards. The underwater noise predictions were based on a literature review and propagation calculations.
In our report, we presented findings using noise metrics suitable for assessing effects on humans, and included detailed tables and graphics to illustrate the propagation of project noise.
The assessment showed that construction and operations noise from the port would not affect the Inuit hunting camps, yet we recommended a noise management plan for the life of the project to reduce noise impacts from other project infrastructure and maintain low noise levels.
While the final project included a much smaller port, with less supporting infrastructure, our noise assessment provided key acoustical insights and recommendations, details that helped realize the construction of the present port, fuel tank farm, airstrip, quarry, and camp.
Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Project
15 million litres