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Washington Needs More Permitted Mines

After looking into several different studies on the state of construction rock and aggregate in Clark County, Wash., members of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) and other construction/building groups in the area said that the county is facing several challenges with its permitted construction aggregate reserves, according to the Vancouver/Southwest Washington Business Journal.

According to a Clark County Aggregate Reserves Study, there is a “rapidly decreasing amount of permitted reserves combined with high demand for aggregate in the rapidly growing county.” The study states that Clark County only has seven years of reserves, per capita demand of aggregate. Of the 25 “active” mines in the county, 12 are active with permitted reserves; only nine are producing construction aggregate material for houses, bridges, roads, hospitals, etc.; and 99% of permitted reserves are sourced from only six mines.

“It’s a classic case of supply and demand,” said SWCA members, in a joint statement. “Right now we have high demand for rock as the county continues to undergo impressive development in many areas (not just in terms of residential units but also the commercial and industrial units needed for business, and of course road maintenance). Unfortunately, the reality is when the demand for rock can’t be met by the current supply, it has to come from somewhere. That means paying more for hauling or barging the rock from other areas, such as hauling materials from pits two to three hours away, or barging rock from our Canadian friends in British Columbia.”

Lehigh Quarry Wants to Mine Additional 60 Acres

Lehigh Permanente Quarry in Cupertino, Calif., submitted an application that would substantially expand its mining operations by digging a second pit at the site, the first new pit since the quarry began mining in 1903.

Lehigh’s proposal calls for a new pit within a 60-acre area that would produce an estimated 60 million tons of limestone, aggregate and minerals. The company intends to reclaim the original pit with on-site and imported materials by 2060 after it’s fully mined, according to a project description submitted to Santa Clara County planners.

“A local source of construction materials and cement reduces the environmental footprint of regional construction, and provides local jobs and tax revenues,” Erika Guerra, Lehigh’s environmental and land management director, told The Mercury News. “It’s about producing and consuming locally, and the associated community and regional environmental benefits.”

Arizona Quarry Seeks Expansion

The Santa Rita Quarry in Sahuarita, Ariz., is looking to expand. According to The Sun, the expansion will consist of three phases that would eventually connect the north and south pits.   

The quarry is an open pit mining operation on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service land. French-owned Imerys Carbonates NA extracts calcium carbonate from the mountain. The quarry operated briefly in the 1970s and 1980s, and has now been in operation for nearly 25 years. Imerys has owned the quarry since 1997.

The proposed expansion would happen in two three-phase operations. Imerys plans to drill 17 core holes – eight in phase one, eight in phase two and one in phase three – to determine the presence, volume and grade of limestone deposits as part of the exploration process. Continuing with each phase is dependent on the outcome of the previous phase. There will be 1.31 acres of additional new disturbance area should the quarry need to drill all 17 holes. The exploration operation is expected to take 20 months to complete all three phases, according to a 14-page outline of the plan provided by the Forest Service.

N.C. Asphalt Plant Still Not Approved

After more than 25 hours of testimony spread over six nights, the fate of a potential asphalt plant in Madison County, N.C., remains undecided, according to the Citizen Times. The plant would be located at the McCrary Stone Services quarry.

The concerns of property owners neighboring and nearby the facility location highlighted the Madison County Board of Adjustments hearing May 15 and 16. The panel of appointed residents tasked with land use decisions listened as individuals spoke of their experiences living directly next to and within a half-mile of the quarry on U.S. 25-70.

Junfeng “Jim” Zhang, a Duke University toxicologist who holds a Ph. D. in environmental health, was the final expert witness to speak. Zhang said his research over 20 years on environmental pollutants had him confident that the proposed asphalt plant would not have a negative effect on the health of nearby residents.