December 2008 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
Richard T. O’Brien, CEO of Newmont Mining, was elected a director of Vulcan Materials Co.’s board, the Birmingham Business Journal reports. O’Brien is also a director of Newmont Mining and Inergy Holdings LP. “Richard O’Brien brings over 20 years of broad financial and operational experience in the energy and natural resources businesses to the deliberations of Vulcan’s board of directors,” said Vulcan Chairman and CEO Don James.
According to the Huntsville Times, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources opposes a plan from Nashville, Tenn.-based Rogers Group to mine a 209-acre site near Tanner. “Until our concerns are addressed through the permitting process, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources cannot support location of a quarry in Limestone County near Swan Creek and Pryor Spring,” Barnett Lawley said in a letter to state Sen. Tom Butler, D-Madison, who also is against the quarry. Officials are said to want proof from Rogers Group that quarry discharges will not harm Swan Creek, Pryor Branch, the Swan Creek WMA, and other wildlife.
Willows residents voiced their concerns about a proposed gravel mine during a recent meeting of the Glenn County Planning Commission. According to the Chico Enterprise-Record, issues such as the pastoral nature of the community, traffic, water supply, and environmental were raised by the community. North Valley Rock Products was expected to request an application for a conditional use permit, but asked for a continuance. It would like to mine 20 million tons of sand and gravel from more than 300 acres near Highway 32.
After being pulled off the consent calendar and briefly discussed during an October meeting, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $57,270 for the Harris Quarry environmental impact report. The Daily Journal reports that the proposed conversion of the quarry, located near Willits, into an asphalt plant has been in the works for years. “This is very rapidly becoming the most expensive EIR in Mendocino County history if it’s not already,” said Board Chairman Jim Wattenburger. “It’s costing a huge amount of money. My concern is it just keeps getting dragged out and dragged out.” Additional expenditures will be used to reassess the construction of replacement channels on the site, proposed additional improvements to Highway 101, revised traffic report, a new list of heavy equipment and generators, and additional data about site drainage and the design and operation of the bioretention swale.
New aggregate operations may face tougher rules if Indian River County Commissioners approve a series of revisions to county mining laws. The Press Journal reports that county commissioners reviewed the basic proposals of new mining regulations during a four-hour meeting in October. By a 3-2 vote, commissioners rejected a regulation that would have required future operations to seek their approval. Commissioner Mary McGuire-Smith chastised Commissioner Wesley Davis for making the motion. He told the newspaper that, “I feel we’re crafting rules for a (single) mine and not negotiating a mining policy for the whole county.” He also said that his brother’s ownership of a sand mine had nothing to do with his position. Commissioners gave the nod to the local planning director to rewrite 37 of the proposals as revisions to current mining laws. They will be presented for final action some time this month.
At press time, Clarkston-based Steelman-Duff was preparing to auction its road building equipment as it exits the road construction business after nearly six decades. According to the Lewiston Morning Tribune, the company ran a skeletal crew this year and found no new work. “We’ve had slow periods,” Hyrum Cox, president of the business, told the newspaper. “This is the first time I can remember we’ve ever been completely out of work.” The company’s last significant project was as a subcontractor responsible for grading and crushing material for the widening of Highway 270 between Moscow and Pullman. With no revenue coming in, Cox said he could not afford to keep the business going any longer.
With the stagnating economy eroding the cement industry, Essroc Materials pushed ahead its plans to close its Frederick plant that employs 90 workers and, instead, use the site as a distribution center, the company announced. The Gazette reports that all inventory will be moved by next year, when Essroc will transfer production operations at its Buckeystown Pike location to its Martinsburg, W.Va., plant, which is getting a $500,000 upgrade. The renovation includes technology upgrades and environmental improvements, after which the plant will have significantly more production capacity than the Frederick plant, said Essroc spokesman Marco Barbesta. The plant had been expected to close within two years, but financial reasons drove an earlier closure. Citing rising production costs due to higher energy prices, the company also announced that it will raise prices by $15 per ton, starting Jan. 1.
A Miller County judge has several options when ruling on Magruder Limestone’s request to require quarry opponents to post a bond or allow the company to start blasting. According to the Lake Sun Leader, Jaynes can award Magruder the $1-million bond it is asking or continue the case for a formal hearing. Both parties expressed interest in expediting the hearing process so a decision would come quickly, if that was the course of action the judge decided to take. Magruder’s lawyer said, if the case moved into the full hearing, witnesses would be called to testify about the financial impact of not using the site and recent blasting close to the same sewer lines for construction on the expressway. Magruder is asking the court to require the petitioners to jointly post a bond or consider other options, including allowing the company to start blasting.