Rock Products - The Leading Voice of the Aggregate Industries.

Help for Alabama Tornado Victims

tornadoApril 28, 2011 – Ellen Smith, publisher of Mine Safety & Health News, and a health and safety contributor to Rock Products, is organizing a care-package project to help tornado victims in Alabama. Many of her subscribers, friends and family were affected, not to mention construction-materials companies in those areas. With help from an MSHA staff member, she has found a place to take "care package" donations The Red Cross will be making several pick-ups each day and distributing the packages to the areas in need. Donation items requested are: Bottled water, diapers, individually wrapped snacks, food and baby formula, as well as mouth wash, tooth paste and handi-wipes. Please send care packages to: Taylor Bug’s, 1355 Hueytown Road, Hueytown, AL 35023  205-491-2849. Best to use a U.S Postal Service Priority Mail box, and mark on the outside what is in it. Thanks for your help.

What's Up With Fuel Prices?

PumpsApril 26, 2011 – If you're a producer, your diesel prices are up. That ain't good. As fuel prices rise nationwide, the Obama administration announced last week the creation of a working group to investigate and prosecute suspected fraud in the energy markets. “There is no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away. But there are a few things we can do,” President Obama told a town hall meeting in Reno, Nev. Attorney General Eric Holder has assembled a team to monitor oil and gas markets for evidence of fraud or illegal manipulation that might affect gas prices, he said. “That includes the role of traders and speculators,” Obama added. “We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain,” he told the group. But a recent article on the blog The Infrastructurist is titled, "America's Low Gas Prices: A Global Perspective." You can pretty much figure out where that's going. The article also suggests that raising gas taxes is political suicide for whomever suggests it. That ain't good either. The beat goes on.

A Quarry with a Solar System

MarkWestApril 21, 2011 – California is a leader in the national effort to utilize more environmentally friendly forms of energy. So its no surprise that Santa Rosa, Calif.-based  BoDean Co.’s Mark West Quarry will make history on May 11 when they “flip the switch” and become the first quarry in the world to be 100 percent reliant on solar power. BoDean Co. owners, Belinda and Dean Soiland have made the BoDean Co. an industry leader in sustainability and eco-friendly mining operations. In addition to the use of solar, the company is also dedicated to the extensive use of recycled materials in its production process, as well as actively pursuing a managed reclamation plan that coincides with quarry operations. The Mark West Quarry photovoltaic system will be capable of generating 1,165,000 kilowatt hours of green energy per year.  The electricity produced by the solar panels will offset the release of 18,440,521 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, which is enough energy to power 160 typical American homes for a full year. Look for stories on this innovative operation in the May and June issue of Rock Products.

The Price is Nice

usgsApril 19, 2011 – USGS just released the updated Crushed Stone chapter for its ongoing Minerals Yearbook project. The new information, based on 2009 data, notes some interesting things with regard to aggregatesprices. More than 800 operations responded to the survey question concerning the dollar value of their production for the current and previous year. The average unit value for operations reporting production and value was $9.92 per metric ton in 2009. This was an increase of 3 percent compared with the average unit value of $9.66 per ton in 2008 – in line with what was in the annual reports of the top U.S. stone-producing companies. Prices in the chapter are the annual average free on-board plant prices, usually at the first point of sale or captive use, as reported by the crushed stone producing companies. This value does not include transportation from the plant or yard to the consumer. It does, however, include all costs of mining, processing, in-plant transportation, overhead costs and profit.

Big Brother, and Everyone Else, is Watching You

MSHAApril 12, 2011 – This is going to be sort of like operating in a fish bowl. MSHA now offers an online service that enables mine operators, miners and others to monitor a mining operation to determine if it could be subject to a potential pattern of violations (POV). MSHA developed the monitoring tool based on feedback from the mining industry and others, as well as recommendations from a POV auditreport issued last September by the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General. “We are making the process more transparent,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “We have worked hard to improve the pattern of violations process, and I am confident we have developed a tool to better serve the mining community. This self-monitoringtool will be an extremely effective way for mine operators to continuously track their compliance history and make the changes necessary to ultimately keep miners safe and healthy.” The newly developed POV monitoring tool, available here, permits mine operators, miners, the media and the public to determine, based on the most recent data available, how a specific mine matches up with the criteria for a potential pattern of violations. The enforcement data, upon which the pattern of violations criteria are based, will be refreshed monthly. My biggest concern is that the media and NIMBY Groups with an ax to grind will misrepresent some of the data they see for their own purposes. Does this concern you as well?