September 2008 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
During a two-week period in early July, a wilderness area on the north side of Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s 14-square-mile port district was transformed into a large gravel mine, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The site being run by Quality Asphalt and Paving has been touted by the local port director as an asset to Mat-Su Borough. The director told the newspaper that the mine is not only bringing revenue to the port but is also enhancing its image as a natural resource shipping spot. Gravel is being transported across the inlet to the Anchorage port where it will be used to lay the foundation for the 2008 marine terminal redevelopment north expansion. In a month’s time, the gravel shipping operation is expected to generate $637,000 based on royalties, wharf fees, and dockage fees.
A report in the Contra Costa Times notes that aggregate imports are helping the Port of Redwood City rebound from two years of decreasing activity. The port, which typically handles construction materials, processed nearly 1.5 million metric tons during its last fiscal year – a 4-percent increase compared to the previous year. Significant gains in sand and construction aggregates more than offset a 205,885-ton decrease in cement imports. Crushed stone and gravel imports were up 423 percent while sand imports increased 177 percent. Much of the sand and aggregates came from a quarry in North Vancouver Island.
More than 100 opponents attended a July meeting of the Yuba County Planning Commission when a draft environmental impact report (EIR) on a proposed quarry was discussed. According to the Appeal-Democrat, DeSilva Gates Construction has proposed a 315-acre quarry and asphalt plant near a local landfill. The company requested a conditional use permit in 2005. The draft EIR requests an average annual production rate of 350,000 tons of aggregate and up to 200,000 tons of asphalt. Opponents voiced concerns about the impact of mining on agricultural land, water quality, and noise.
Leon County Commissioners passed an ordinance that requires sand mines to be surrounded by 4-foot fencing and marked with “no trespassing” signs. The Tallahassee Democrat reports that approximately 60 county sand mines are impacted by the new regulation. It stems from the drowning of 8-year-old Kyle Jones at a sand mine earlier this year. Commissioners discussed a 6-foot fencing requirement, but dropped the height requirement based on concerns about the additional cost.
As part of a two-year project, Titan America’s Center Sand Mine relocated 56 gopher tortoises to a 35-acre, L-shaped habitat on Center Sand property that will never be mined. Center Sand had two options for protecting the tortoises: they could either request the state of Florida move them to another part of the state, or Center Sand could create a safe-zone habitat for them on existing mine property. Titan America chose the latter option. “Our goal is to do the right thing for these creatures,” said Terry Lancaster, Titan American environmental manager. “This is their natural habitat. We believe it’s far better for them to stay within a couple acres of home than move many miles away.”
Lafarge North America acquired three Dolese Brothers plants in Wichita, The Wichita Eagle reports. Lafarge told the newspaper that it will operate the ready-mixed concrete plant on West MacArthur, but will dismantle those on East Central and 53rd and 119th and sell the real estate. The company hired 15 of Dolese’s 32 Wichita employees. Ron Cornejo, president of Wichita’s Cornejo & Sons, said his company looked at the properties, but decided against acquisition given the current market conditions. He did say the employees who lost their jobs were likely to find work quickly, noting, “Those people are valuable employees to us or someone else.”
Ash Grove Cement bought Holliday Sand & Gravel Co. for an undisclosed price in early August. The Kansas City Business Journal reports that Ash Grove called its purchase a strategic deal to expand its Midwest market presence. It also touted the additional “significant long-term” sand and gravel reserves gained through the acquisition. “This acquisition complements Ash Grove’s existing operations and will strengthen our market position as the leading supplier of cement and construction materials in the Midwest,” CEO Charlie Sunderland said in a release. “We anticipate that Ash Grove will begin realizing synergies almost immediately.”
Rob Scrivener, president of BBSS Inc. and manager of Reliable Contracting Co., assured residents near his Gambrills sand and gravel operation that he had no plans to fill the pit with fly ash. The Capital reports that Scrivener is seeking permits to mine dirt from nearly 20 acres of the property to generate alternative fill material. Based on a request from a grassroots activist group, he changed language in his permit request to avoid dumping further fly ash at the site.