State and Province News March 2011
The state’s mining business has declined by nearly half since 2006, Jasper Stem, executive director of the North Carolina Aggregates Association, told The Mecklenburg Times. From November 2009 to November 2010, the industry lost 5,000 jobs, or 13 percent of its workforce. “We’re at near-Depression Era levels of performance for this country, and for Charlotte in particular,” Martin Marietta Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Anne Lloyd told the newspaper. “We have had to adjust to match the demand in the construction sector.” Stem noted that, while he thought the area was recession-proof, companies with multiple operations were only running a single site and moving crews around. Lloyd emphasized the importance of SAFETEA-LU reauthorization: “I’m not sure people fully appreciate the importance of getting the construction industry back to work,” she said. “Until you get that sector back to work, you are not going to get the country back to work.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) hopes to reclaim 20 acres of Alley Park as a campground by 2014, according to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. The parcel was mined for sand and gravel by two companies, the now-defunct Blazer Materials Corp. and Shelly Materials Inc. The latter producer reclaimed the land, added a retention pond, and planted trees, but the former company did not reclaim the land. An ODNR representative told the newspaper that only about 2 to 3 percent of mining permits result in forfeiture, and that number continues to decline. The state agency hopes to complete its reclamation efforts through grant funding.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is suing his own city’s Board of Adjustment for reversing a ban on sand and gravel mining by Ralph Smith Trucking Co. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the suit names the board, the trucking company, and the owner of the mine property. It calls for a reversal on the board’s Dec. 23, 2010, ruling and asks that the trucking company be denied the right to mine sand and gravel. The city contends that it sent the trucking company notification of a zoning violation in 2005, and the company didn’t appeal it. In 2008, the city’s zoning administrator ruled that the property didn’t “enjoy a legal non-conforming mining and excavation use.” After that notice, the trucking company appealed. A hearing had not been scheduled at press time.
In late January, several truck drivers parked their semis in front of the Parkways Authority headquarters in Charleston as a sign of their opposition to tolls on U.S. 35. According to The Charleston Gazette, the drivers and area business owners told the Parkways Authority board that a toll road would hurt commerce and force truckers to bypass the tolls by using separate routes. John Thompson, who owns a sand and gravel company in Mason County, told the newspaper that if his truckers were forced to pay $8.50 each time they stopped at one of the two proposed tollbooths on U.S. 35, he’d have no choice but to lay off workers.
A regional aggregate study in British Columbia has stalled due to lack of funding, the Kelowna Capital News reports. The Regional District of Central Okanagan is now looking for other ways to prioritize gravel pit applications that have been repeatedly denied. The most recent mapping of geologic resources in the area took place in 2001. Regional partners contributed approximately $60,000 toward the study with the expectation that industry and senior government would also contribute, but neither group wanted to fund the study. A similar study in Fraser Valley also stalled when regulators realized how long it would take to receive nearly $250,000 from individual mining permits. One regional official noted that an interim policy was necessary to address the permitting issue until federal gas tax funding is available. He noted that the region could not put applications on hold for another 18 months to two years.
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