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MSHA Fatality #17

The president of a dimensional stone operation died in a site accident that also serves as a safety lesson for workers at aggregates operations. According to MSHA, Ralph Wheeler, president of Wheeler Rock Quarry, Lansing, Kan., was struck by a haul truck. Wheeler had dismounted the dozer he was operating and walked in front of the haul truck. The accident occurred because the victim approached the haul truck and did not notify the operator of his presence. Wheeler was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death was blunt force trauma. Wheeler had 20 years, 9 weeks and 4 days of experience at this operation, but had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 46. MSHA reports that this was the 17th metal/nonmetal fatality of the year.

The latest ups and downs

artbaThe American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has some good and bad news. First the bad. Continuing budget challenges for state and local governments, uncertainty surrounding a new long-term federal surface transportation bill, and winding down of infrastructure investment under the stimulus law, will drive a 4.4 percent contraction in the U.S. highway and bridge construction market in 2011, according to ARTBA Vice President of Policy & Senior Economist Alison Premo Black. The real value of highway, street and bridge construction is expected to fall to $78.5 billion, compared to 2010's estimated $82.2 billion level, according to Black. One positive note: the amount of work completed on bridges is expected to increase to $25.4 billion in 2010, Black says. The value of real work in the bridge market has nearly doubled in the last decade as state and local governments have increasingly addressed long-deteriorating conditions.

Aggregates = a gold mine

Who said aggregates aren't as good as gold? Arizona Gold & Onyx Mining Co. (AGOM) announced the acquisition of a promising sand and gravel deposit and a placer gold property located in Yuma County, Ariz. The Yuma property comprises a very large resource of high-quality construction aggregates ideal for road construction and other uses, according to the company.

Read more: Aggregates = a gold mine

M&A the Oldcastle way

oldcastlelogoMerger and acquisition activity is beginning to pick up as companies position themselves to take advantage of the next market upturn. Oldcastle Materials just added to its asphalt holdings with the purchase of the asphalt and construction business assets of MAC Construction Inc., in Buchanan County, Va. This is the 15th acquisition year-to-date for Oldcastle Materials. MAC Construction is a family-owned company started by Roger and John McClanahan in the late 1970s. Owner Mark McClanahan joins Oldcastle Materials in the role of area manager along with the company's 28 employees. The acquisition is a good bolt-on to its W-L Construction & Paving business, according to Oldcastle. "The additional capabilities that MAC Construction brings will allow us to continue to meet the needs of the Commonwealth," said Jerry Short, general manager. Virginia's current highway network is the result of more than 100 years of investment in infrastructure and we look forward to working together to provide quality asphalt and paving services throughout southwest Virginia."

September cement production up slightly

The latest story on cement production is a case of ups and downs. Total shipments of portland and blended cement in the United States and Puerto Rico for September 2010 were 6.8 million metric tons (Mt), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  This was only about 1 percent higher than shipments in September 2009. Year-to-date shipments through September were 53.0 Mt, down by 3 percent from those of the same period in 2009. The leading producing States, Missouri, Texas, California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, shipped 40 percent of the September total. The leading consuming States, Texas, California, Illinois, Florida, and Ohio, received about 32 percent of September's total shipments.