August 2008 – AggBeat

AggMan Staff | Published on August 1, 2008

by Tina Grady Barbaccia, Senior Editor


Stickler offers Miner Act update

On June 16, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Richard Stickler provided an update on Miner Act enforcement and fielded questions from the press. “This is the second anniversary of the Miner Act and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been working very diligently on its implementation,” he told conference call attendees.

Stickler then reviewed the four new rules promulgated by the agency, including those addressing civil penalties, seals, mine rescue, and emergency mine evacuation and described the number of agency regulatory initiatives as “unprecedented.”

In regards to underground communication devices, he noted that devices equivalent to a phone are currently in use. However, in June 2009, communication must be conducted via wireless two-way media. If viable technology does not exist at that time, he said that alternatives may be used. “We’re working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop performance-based criteria to determine what the next best alternative is,” Stickler said.

The agency will require the use of devices to track miners underground. Those devices are available and must be in place next summer.

Stickler indicated that the agency is trending toward issuing 180,000 violations this year, compared to 140,000 issued in 2007, which was a record. He also estimated that that there would be a 60-percent increase in the number of unwarrantable failure violations issued.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in penalties,” Stickler noted. He reported that $35 million in penalties were assessed in 2006, but that number increased to $75 million in 2007.

“Penalties and an increase in enforcement have led mine operators to ask for conference on a high number of violations and to contest a high number of violations,” he said. “We put on our Web site (www.msha.gov) a database that shows the operators that are contesting violations. We have identified over 200 operators that are contesting 100 percent of violations that MSHA is issuing. It appears to me that they are deliberately abusing the system and creating a backlog that is making it difficult for MSHA and for everyone involved. It’s unfortunate the amount of resources that is going into that process.”

- by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief


2006                2007                % Change

Penalties Assessed                 $35 million      $75 million      214% increase

Fatality Rate (per 100)            0.022               0.019               15.8% decrease

Lost-time Injury Rate             2.43                 2.33                 4.3% decrease

Total Incidence Rate               3.64                 3.42                 6.4% decrease

Source: MSHA


Texas quarry becomes outdoor classroom

KBDJ, a limestone quarry in Hays County, Texas, became an outdoor classroom for more than 100 fourth graders.

Two busloads of students from the local Highland Park Elementary School visited the quarry for lessons in geology, mining, aquifer protection, and habitat preservation.

During her introduction, KBDJ President Jill Shackelford told the students that she hoped that they would be able to see what they traditionally learned in the classroom put into practice.

One fourth grader volunteered to help start off the lesson by making “asphalt” treats. The boy stirred together a mixture of crisp rice cereal, sugar, and corn syrup, representing limestone aggregates, sand, and asphalt, respectively. He then smoothed the mixture with a roller and showed his classmates how it hardened as it bound together, similar to the way asphalt solidifies under heat.

Another student noted, “Rocks are important because they can make it so you don’t have to drive on dirt roads. You can have concrete and asphalt, which are made from rocks.”

Representatives from the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute gave a presentation on sedimentary rocks while the Hill Country Conservancy taught students about aquifer protection and open space preservation. Students learned that the aquifer is like “a giant river running underneath the ground” and that the orange silt fences on the property were installed to protect recharge features.

KBDJ is in the midst of a year-long process to have its site accredited by the Wildlife

Habitat Council. As part of the process, the quarry owners have installed bat boxes, studied invasive plant species, and provided new habitat for wildlife and fish.


Better Roads, Aggregates Manager announce promotions

Randall-Reilly Publishing, parent company of Aggregates Manager and Better Roads magazines, promoted two editors to new positions, effective June 1.

Tina Grady Barbaccia became executive editor of Better Roads magazine, following a four-year stint as senior editor on Aggregates Manager. Barbaccia teamed with Editor-in-Chief Therese Dunphy to revitalize Aggregates Manager into the aggregates industry’s best-read magazine and the industry’s preferred source for operations information and news. Barbaccia will be mentored in her new post by Better Roads Editor-in-Chief Ruth Stidger, who will retire at the end of the year. Stidger has been the magazine’s editor-in-chief for more than 20 years and has won six Neal Awards, often referred to as the “Pulitizer Prize” of the b-to-b trade press industry.

Barbaccia’s journalism career includes work in the agriculture, automotive, and appliance industries. She has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, including three with Aggregates Manager. She is the immediate past president and a board member of the Chicago Chapter of the American Society of Business Press Editors and has just completed a two-year term on the board of the Construction Writers Association (CWA); she continues to serve on various CWA committees.

Kerry Clines was promoted to senior editor on Aggregates Manager, replacing Barbaccia. Clines served on the Better Roads editorial staff for eight years. As the magazine’s associate editor, she distinguished herself as a department editor, feature writer, and photographer.

Originally hired as a researcher, Clines quickly demonstrated prowess as an interviewer and writer. In addition to her writing and editing work, Clines has also photographed many Better Roads covers and written major features for Aggregates Manager.

“We appreciate how much Tina and Kerry have contributed to the success of Aggregates Manager and Better Roads,” says Editorial Director Kirk Landers. “They are dedicated professionals, and our magazines will benefit immensely from their ongoing career growth.”


MSHA enforcing new total carbon limit: 160 micrograms

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is now enforcing an exposure limit of 160 micrograms of total carbon per cubic meter of air (160TC µg/m3) and said it has developed a practical sampling strategy to account for interferences from non-diesel exhaust sources when total carbon is used as a surrogate for measuring a miner’s exposure to diesel particulate matter, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association reports. The limit applies to underground metal and non-metal mines.

The limit has been 350TC µg/m3. MSHA measures a miner’s personal exposure to diesel particulate matter by analyzing a sample for total carbon, which is a diesel particulate matter surrogate obtained by combining elemental carbon and organic carbon.


Dyno Nobel acquired by Incitec Pivot

Dyno Nobel was acquired by Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) on June 2. It will operate as a discrete explosives business with IPL, and the Dyno Nobel brand will be retained along with all products and associated trade names.

“Being part of Incitec Pivot will offer our customers the opportunity to be affiliated with a larger organization offering a broader base and increased security of supply,” said Don Brinker, Dyno Nobel president and CEO, in a written statement. “For Dyno Nobel, the integration will strengthen our ability to provide an enhanced level of service as well as products designed to meet our customers’ needs.”


Sustainability initiative urges accelerated reductions in carbon emissions

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI), co-chaired by Lafarge and Taiheiyo Cement, called on G8 members and the UNFCCC to accelerate the creation of a policy framework that will allow the development of effective sectoral approaches.

“While discussions are underway to reach a global climate agreement, complementary sectoral approaches could be put into place under which key industry players could work together to accelerate CO2 reductions,” explains Bjorn Stigson, WBCSD president.

The cement sector is best placed to adopt a sectoral approach on CO2 emissions, thanks to a CO2 measuring and reporting protocol developed in 2002 by the CSI. This protocol is now being used by 80 percent of the world’s cement industry.

“As an industry, we are leading in the adoption of tools that can be used to target climate change. Member companies of the CSI have set voluntary individual CO2 reduction targets which are delivering encouraging results, and we…have announced a significant drop in emissions per ton of cement produced by our members,” says Bruno Lafont, chairman and CEO of Lafarge.

Figures released by the CSI show that the average net specific emissions per ton of cement of its 18 members have fallen from over 760kg CO2/ton in 1990 to 670kg in 2007. This reduction equates to CO2 savings in 2007 of over 70 million tons, compared to 1990 performance.

“These results are encouraging and show that reducing CO2 intensity in cement is possible. To go further, we are calling on G8 members and the UNFCCC to accelerate the creation of the necessary policy framework for effective sectoral approaches,” Lafont says.

As part of its work on identifying actions that cement manufacturers can take to improve the sustainability of their industry, the CSI developed the first global cement database, charting CO2 and energy, with independently verified data. It is the accurate collection of data of this type that will prove crucial in the successful application of sectoral approaches by industry.

“There are a number of benefits with sectoral approaches,” Stigson says. “They offer a way of mobilizing emerging economies in CO2 mitigation. This is important when we consider that 80 percent of emissions in the cement sector come from developing regions. Sectoral approaches also enable a small number of key industry players, or indeed countries, to become engaged quickly.”

Holcim (US) plant achieves safety milestone

The Holcim (US) Inc. Trident Cement Plant in Three Forks, Mont., recently exceeded 1 million hours without a lost-time accident (LTA). The plant has not had a lost-time accident in more than six years.
“As a company, we are proud of our safety record, and the Trident plant’s achievement exemplifies what we strive for in every facility,” says Patrick Dolberg, president and CEO of Holcim (US), in a written statement.

With 84 employees, the Trident plant produces approximately 320,000 metric tons of cement per year – enough to create 1.5 million cubic yards of concrete – and contributes more than $20 million annually to the Montana economy.
In operation for nearly 100 years, the plant has been updated and upgraded several times to keep up with changing technology and increasing demand. Demand for cement in Montana is expected to increase by an additional 27 percent during the next 25 years as the state’s population continues to grow.

Holcim plants awarded for community relations, environment

The efforts of two Holcim (US) cement plants in Alabama and in South Carolina are being rewarded for excellence with two separate awards for their environmental performance and community outreach efforts.

The Holcim (US) cement plant in Theodore, Ala., received the Environmental Performance Award from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Cement Americas magazine during the 2008 Cement Industry Energy and Environment Awards. The plant’s emissions are below state limits for particulate matter and other emissions. The plan reuses all of its cement kiln dusts and used about 10,000 gallons of site-generated oil for an energy recovery fuel in the kiln. The Theodore plant also was a finalist in the Outreach category.

PCA and the magazine also recognized Holcim’s (US) Holly Hill plant in Holly Hill, S.C., as a finalist in the Outreach category. The plant was noted for its Kid’s Day Celebration. Co-hosted with the South Carolina Waterfowl Association and the state’s Department of Natural Resources, it is an annual celebration in which plant employees work with local and state community groups to plan activities that promote environmental awareness and education.


Pennsy builds ‘driving range’ to improve safety

Pennsy Supply recently designed and built a very unique “driving range” for its employees – 18 “holes” to help improve the safety of its 180 truck drivers. Set up with flags, just like a golf course, Pennsy drivers maneuver a variety of vehicles through the course and are scored on how well they do.

Twelve of the 18 obstacles are based on backing the trucks up. “The majority of construction vehicle accidents occur while backing up,” says Ken Stambaugh, transportation manager for Pennsy Supply, in a written statement. “We encourage our drivers to use a GOAL approach – Get Out And Look.”

The course took approximately 200 man-hours to construct, and Mike Holley, assistant driver supervisor, was the construction manager for the project. The truck drivers from Pennsy Supply and McMinn’s Inc., another Pennsy company, based in Lancaster, Pa., will use the course.


Aggregate Industries North Central Region “Environmental Business of the Year”

Great River Greening, a Twin Cities-area non-profit regional leader for community-based ecological design and restoration, named Aggregate Industries’ North Central Region “Environmental Business of the Year.” This region of Aggregate Industries is based in Eagan, Minn., and employs about 750 people. Great River Greening chose the region as the award recipient because of its commitment to the community and the environment, according to an Aggregate Industries press release.


Great Lakes budget slash will add stress to rail, trucking

The proposed federal budget for next year decreases money earmarked for maintenance of the Great Lakes infrastructure by 35 percent, which will have a far-reaching impact on the region, says the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF).

The proposed reduction in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer budget comes as the Great Lakes have reached near-record low water levels. The 2008 budget approved by Congress and the current Administration is $140 million, but this coming year’s proposed budget allocates only $89.3 million, a decrease of $49 million, according to the GLMTF, the largest coalition that represents industries using the Great Lakes. The Corps of Engineers acknowledges that it needs more than $215 million to clear the backlog of dredging projects throughout the Great Lakes navigation system.
“Any reduction in the Corps dredging budget for the Lakes would be a double whammy of the worst kind,” says Patrick J. O’Hern, president of GLMTF and vice president and general manager of Bay Shipbuilding Co., in a news release from GLMTF. “The Lakes are already suffering with extremely low water levels. An adequately funded maintenance program doesn’t solve the problem, but it certainly helps offset the impacts of falling water levels. Now is absolutely the worst imaginable time for a reduction in Great Lakes dredging funds.”

Daniel Smith, first vice president of GLMTF and national executive vice president of American Maritime Officers, says that some vessels were forfeiting 15 percent of their carrying capacity by the end of 2007.” For a 1,000-foot vessel, this amounts to about 10,000 tons of cargo.

“Our highways and rail lines are already struggling to handle existing cargo,” notes John D. Baker, third vice president of GLMTF and president of the International Longshoremen’s Great Lakes District Council, in a written statement. “Not giving the Lakes enough dredging funds is like pulling the plug on the American economy.”


Quick Facts

2008 budget: $140 million

2009 proposed budget: $89.3 million

Percent change between 2008 and 2009 budgets: 35.5 percent

Amount needed to clear backlog of dredging projects: $215 million


Luck Stone launches new selling concept

The Charles Luck Stone Center, a division of Luck Stone Corp. and one of the largest natural stone suppliers in the Mid-Atlantic, recently launched a new concept for selling stone built on tailored customer service and high-quality products. The Architectural Stone Division at Luck Stone Corp. is now known as Charles Luck Stone Center, but Luck Stone Corp. itself has not changed its name.

The key people served by the new division include masons, landscapers, builders, architects, interior designers, and homeowners. The contractor yard is designed to serve contractors needing expedient service, and the studio is geared toward homeowners, architects, and interior designers. Charles Luck Stone Center celebrated its grand opening in Richmond, Va., in September, and it also has a second location in Northern Virginia. This new division plans to open re-vamped centers at existing locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region during the next three years, according to the company.

“Luck Stone remains committed to our aggregates business, operating 18 plants producing crushed stone or sand and gravel, and we recently conveyed our company’s innovation into our architectural stone division,” Charles Luck IV, president and CEO of Luck Stone Corp., tells Aggregates Manager. “Our new business model – born from our architectural stone division…embraces history, beauty, and the allure of stone while creating a unique destination for individuals who appreciate aesthetic design.”

Mark Fernandes, president of Charles Luck, says the product lines at the new stone center span from a foundation line of more common stones to the legacy line, which include rare and exceptional stone products. “We travel the world to find stones from places like South America, Italy, and China to meet our customers’ needs,” Fernandes says.

Dan McKain – ‘He loved life’

Dan McKain, well known and well liked in the aggregates industry, passed away doing what he loved best – out in the field reporting and taking photos. He was 76 years old. Dan died on May 17 of an apparent heart attack while on a project site in Texas.

He had just finished interviewing several personnel on site, says his wife of 37 years, Gini. “I saw him taking pictures, and a few minutes later, I came to check on him,” she says. “He had just passed away, camera in hand, notes beside him.”

Dan and his wife traveled around the United States in their motor home taking photographs and writing stories on operations, construction sites, and a variety of other subjects. He and Gini were contributors to Aggregates Manager and its sister magazine, Better Roads, as well as several other industry publications. Even though Dan had been regularly using a motorized wheelchair the past few years, he still was always in the middle of the action. After Hurricane Katrina, he and Gini traveled to New Orleans, and because of all the time they spent out in the field, they knew the public officials who could get them into the storm-ravaged areas that many others in the media couldn’t get near.

“He was 76, and he still loved working the construction, boating, and law enforcement beat,” Gini says of her husband’s spunkiness. “He loved the Cajun country of Louisiana, and we did stories and photographed the people there. He loved life.”

Dan’s long list of accomplishments and experiences shows his love of life: he photographed the original seven astronauts and the future space program, as well as many presidents and politicians for the House of Representatives, fought an 80 pound-tarpon, dove for coins on the Spanish Plate fleet in Florida, and many other experiences too numerous to capture all of them, Gini says.

“The adventures go on and on,” she calls. “I was along for the ride and had fun on the way. How wonderful it is today to be able to do what you love until the end.”


Mergers & Acquisitions

A number of acquisitions occurred in the construction materials industry during the past month. On May 5, 2008, National Cement Co., through parent company Vicat SA (Vicat), acquired Walker Concrete Co. Inc. (Walker). Walker, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., produces and distributes ready-mixed concrete in the southeastern United States principally through 14 plant locations. The acquisition strengthens the cement company’s operations and distribution synergies in the southeast market via its cement facility in Alabama and existing concrete plants in that market. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

On May 9, 2008, Knife River Corp. (Knife River), a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group Inc. (MDU Resources), acquired Yarbrough’s Material & Construction (Yarbrough), a leading aggregate supplier and ready-mixed concrete producer near Sour Lake, Texas, located approximately 25 miles west of Beaumont. Yarbrough serves the southeast Texas market, primarily the Beaumont and Port Arthur area, with an aggregate distribution yard and ready-mixed concrete plant. Yarbrough distributes more than 300,000 tons of aggregate annually. The acquisition of Yarbrough strengthens Knife River’s construction materials business in an area that is experiencing strong industrial and commercial growth. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed; however, MDU Resources anticipates the acquisition will be accretive to 2008 earnings per share.

On May 19, 2008, Knife River acquired another business – Amador Transit Mix Inc. (Amador). Located in Sutter Creek, Calif., Amador is a ready-mixed concrete producer. The acquisition of Amador strengthens Knife River’s California presence and complements the existing company’s products and services. Similar to the Yarbrough deal, no transaction terms were disclosed but the acquirer expects the transaction to be accretive.

On June 4, 2008, Lafarge North America Inc. (Lafarge), a subsidiary of Lafarge SA acquired four sand and gravel locations in southeastern Louisiana from Texas Industries Inc. (Texas Industries). The acquisition will expand Lafarge’s presence in southeastern Louisiana and position it to better serve customers by expanding its product offering. The operations will be integrated into Lafarge’s Eastern U.S. Aggregates and Concrete region. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


by Bill Watkins, managing director, National City Capital Markets. Watkins is a contributing editor. He may be reached at 216-222-7134 or william.watkins@nationalcity.com.




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