Archive | Aggregates

THE DEADLY GLOBAL WAR FOR SAND – by Vince Beiser (Wired.com – March 26, 2015)

http://www.wired.com/category/business

THE KILLERS ROLLED slowly down the narrow alley, three men jammed onto a single motorcycle. It was a little after 11 am on July 31, 2013, the sun beating down on the low, modest residential buildings lining a back street in the Indian farming village of Raipur. Faint smells of cooking spices, dust, and sewage seasoned the air. The men stopped the bike in front of the orange door of a two-story brick-and-plaster house. Two of them dismounted, eased open the unlocked door, and slipped into the darkened bedroom on the other side. White kerchiefs covered their lower faces. One of them carried a pistol.

Inside the bedroom Paleram Chauhan, a 52-year-old farmer, was napping after an early lunch. In the next room, his wife and daughter-in-law were cleaning up while Paleram’s son played with his own 3-year-old boy.

Gunshots thundered through the house. Preeti Chauhan, Paleram’s daughter-in-law, rushed into Paleram’s room, her husband, Ravindra, right behind her. Through the open door, they saw the killers jump back on their bike and roar away.

Paleram lay on his bed, blood bubbling out of his stomach, neck, and head. “He was trying to speak, but he couldn’t,” Preeti says, her voice breaking with tears. Ravindra borrowed a neighbor’s car and rushed his father to a hospital, but it was too late. Paleram was dead on arrival. Continue Reading →

Holcim-Lafarge cement mega-merger to be felt in Canada – by Nicolas Van Praet (National Post – April 8, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

MONTREAL – Holcim Ltd. and Lafarge SA confirmed they will merge to form the world’s biggest cement maker in a deal with significant market concentration implications in Canada and other countries.

The two companies are already among the world’s largest suppliers of cement, crushed stone and sand and gravel. In combining into a new producer with annual revenue of US$40-billion, management of the two companies believe they will be required to sell assets representing about 18% of that revenue to satisfy competition regulators.

In Canada, Lafarge and Holcim together employ about 9,000 people and hold about half of the cement market, according to a 2008 estimate published by the Cement Association of Canada. The industry is centered in Ontario and Quebec.

Rivals such as Bolton, Ont.-based James Dick Construction Ltd. said they were surprised by the announcement, but added it could create an opportunity to grow their own businesses by buying what Lafarge and Holcim are forced to discard. Dick specializes in so-called aggregates, which are granular construction materials such as gravel and sand.

“I don’t think it’s bad news. It’ll open it up a bit for us,” company president Jim Dick said Monday. “We would expand if it makes sense.” Continue Reading →

Rock hard opposition to quarry – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – October 18, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

David Villard, a consultant with Bruce Tait Construction Ltd., was in the proverbial hot seat on Thursday night. The Wanup Community Hall played host to a packed house of more than 100 concerned citizens at an open house Tait’s firm organized to present plans for a proposed quarry, which will sit adjacent to Rock Lake, a picturesque recreational spot along Highway 69 surrounded by about 70 seasonal and permanent homes.

Thursday’s open house was an acrimonious affair and attendees expressed their opposition to the proposed quarry on a number of points. James Gomm, president of the Rock Lake Property Owners’ Association, and his wife, Catherine, are spearheading the opposition movement.

Of particular concern was the lack of information circulated to area residents, water quality and possible noise disruptions. Gillian Groves, a seasonal cottager, pointed out the industrial noise could disturb the lake’s residents, many of whom are retirees.

“These people worked for their lives to get these places and what you’re proposing is taking away time from what they’ve worked their lives to enjoy,” she said. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: ONE HUNDRED AGGREGATE DELEGATES TOUR RAIL-VEYOR® MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEM

The Ontario Stone Sand & Gravel Association Members Learn the Benefits of Rail-Veyor® for the Aggregate Industry.

Sudbury, ON, Canada – Oct 7, 2013 One hundred members of the Ontario Stone Sand & Gravel Association toured the Rail-Veyor® facility in Sudbury just recently. Rail-Veyor Technologies Global Inc. manufactures and installs RailVeyor®, a bulk material handling system for surface and underground applications for the mining and aggregate industries.

The Ontario Stone Sand & Gravel Association educates its members on the proven technologies that will help their companies maximize productivity, profitability and safety. “We’re pleased to have included the Rail-Veyor® bulk material handling system on our OSSGA Operations Tour. The technology and engineering behind the system is impressive. Based on the number of questions and time spent seeing it in action, it’s clear that our aggregate members had a lot of interest in the system and the productivity it offers to operations,” comments Dan Muys, Director of Communications and Marketing, Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association. Continue Reading →

Mega quarry land north of Toronto bought by burgeoning farm fund Bonnefield – by John Greenwood (National Post – July 18, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

A controversial plan to build a massive quarry in rolling farmland north of Toronto appears officially dead in the water after a US$20-billion hedge fund in Boston agreed to sell the land on which the project was to be located.

Bonnefield Financial, a farmland investment company based in Ottawa, announced this week that it has acquired about 6,500 acres of lush Dufferin County potato fields in what it called one of the largest farmland transactions in Canadian history.

Financial details were not disclosed however Tom Eisenhauer, the president, acknowledged the price was “more than $50-million, a lot of money.” Speaking in a phone interview, Mr. Eisenhauer insisted Bonnefield is only interested in agriculture. “Our investors want exposure to farming,” he said. “They don’t want exposure to oil and gas, or quarries for that matter.”

Formed in 2010, Bonnefield calls itself Canada’s only national farmland investment management company. Typically that involves buying up farms and leasing them back to farmers. So far it’s raised about $150-million from accredited investors, acquiring about 35,000 acres in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. Continue Reading →

Rural folks triumph over mega-quarry – by Jim Merriam (London Free Press – November 23, 2012)

http://www.lfpress.com/

Rural Ontario can be forgiven for its celebratory mood this week. After all, The Man blinked and the grassroots movement finally won one.

The issue was the mega-quarry in Melancthon Township near Shelburne. The Highland Companies announced Thursday the application to extract aggregate from the quarry is being withdrawn and Highland president John Lowndes has stepped down.

A company spokesperson said the application “does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding.” A classic understatement if ever there was one, with anti-quarry signs appearing as far away as Toronto lawns.

The proposed quarry was “mega” in every sense of the word. It would have covered 2,313 acres, or 93.7 hectares, of what is arguably some of the best farmland in the province. The area’s Honeywood silt loam is as good as it gets for any number of crops, especially potatoes.

In fact, Highland Companies has become a major potato producer since it started acquiring land for the quarry in 2006.

The numbers from In The Hills magazine tell the “mega” story. The five-kilometre wide quarry contained an estimated one billion tonnes of rock reserve, enough to build a two-lane highway 55,555 kilometres long (the circumference of the Earth is 40,075 km). Continue Reading →

How the war against the mega quarry was won – by Jason Van Bruggen (National Post – November 23, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

In early 2011, while visiting our relatives’ farm near Melancthon in Dufferin County, Ont., my wife and I learned about the now infamous “mega quarry” proposal tabled by The Highland Companies, which were looking to turn the area’s rolling hills into one of the largest open-pit excavation sites in North America. This project involved drilling a pit deeper than Niagara Falls beneath the area’s fertile farmland, and permanently disrupting the source water for five pristine rivers.

My wife Blaine and I decided that this could not happen on our watch, and we took on a role as volunteer strategists for opponents of the mega quarry. Conversations with neighbours, the farmers of Mulmur and Melancthon who had not sold their land to the Highland Companies, revealed a tale of David versus Goliath. Potato farmer Dale Rutledge showed us woodlots that the quarry proponents had carved up to circumvent laws preventing complete woodlot removal. Fifth generation farmers, Ralph and Mary Lynn Armstrong, had been approached and encouraged to “retire to Florida” by people wishing to buy their farm under the guise of creating a giant potato farm.

Not being traditional “activists,” we formed a rabble-rousing group of communicators, all volunteers, and called ourselves the Comm Comm (Communications Committee). From early 2011 onward, we met several times a month to plot what were essentially marketing strategies to create a movement to appeal to everyone who valued food and water. Continue Reading →

Critics celebrate surprise end of mega quarry north of Toronto – by Renata D’Aliesio and Karen Howlett (Globe and Mail – November 22, 2012)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

MELANCTHON TOWNSHIP — While in their vast vegetable fields Wednesday, harvesting the last of their brussel sprout crop, Bill French and his son received a stunning text message: The bid to develop one of the largest rock quarries on the continent, one that would have encircled their family farm for 50 to 100 years, was dead, unexpectedly abandoned by the Canadian and American investors behind the divisive project.

The French family rejoiced as the text messages kept coming. The hard-fought battle that had united a motley crew – farmers and urbanites, politicians and entertainers, aboriginals and top Toronto chefs – was over, for a while at least. Some of Southern Ontario’s finest farmland would no longer be transformed into a massive limestone pit.

“It’s really good news,” said Mr. French, 57, said as he sat on his red tractor. “I was surprised they withdrew it this early. I thought it would go on for another five years.

The story behind the mega-quarry began six years ago when Ontarian John Lowndes began buying up prime farmland in Melancthon Township, about 120 kilometres north of Toronto. Mr. French and other farmers contend Mr. Lowndes portrayed himself as only interested in producing potatoes, but suspicions soon surfaced. Those suspicions were confirmed last year, when The Highland Companies submitted an application to the province to develop a limestone quarry. Continue Reading →

Coalition of farmers and urban foodies halts Ontario mega-quarry – by Joe Friesen (Globe and Mail – November 22, 2012)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

It would have been the biggest quarry in Canada, but it was stopped in its tracks by an unusual coalition of farmers, urban foodies, artists, environmentalists and native bands, one that suggests a model for organizing opposition to resource projects.

The movement against the Ontario quarry was launched with nothing more than a basic story. An American company had convinced local farmers it was buying up chunks of land for a potato farm. Potatoes were only part of the plan, however. It soon made an application to build a massive quarry that the opposition said would threaten the groundwater and soil in one of the most fertile land belts in the country.

The plan seemed outrageous to many locals. But how could anyone else be convinced to care if it wasn’t happening in their backyard? The rest of the province had to be persuaded that the fight was about them, too. That meant mobilizing people in the cities. The best way proved to be through their stomachs.

On Wednesday, the Highland Companies withdrew its controversial application to build a limestone quarry in Melancthon township, about 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto, citing a lack of support in the community. Continue Reading →

The need for aggregate puts the GTA between a rock and a hard place – by Renata D’Aliesio (Globe and Mail – December 10, 2011)

Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

PLEASE NOTE THIS ARTICLE IS FROM DECEMBER/2011.

Deep beneath vast fields that grow a dozen varieties of potatoes lies a valuable gray rock tinged with light browns and blues. The rock is hard, durable and dense, part of the 400-million-year-old Amabel Formation that once belonged to a warm, shallow sea.

To Toronto’s high-rise condominium developers and road-construction engineers, this high-quality limestone, known as Amabel dolostone, is an invaluable ingredient in the making of superior concrete and asphalt. Builders turn to it when they need to make the sturdiest of structures. The CN Tower, Highway 401 and Pearson International Airport all contain bits of Amabel dolostone.

Yet this precious rock, a building block of the ever-growing Toronto region, is at the heart of a quarry battle of the likes never seen before in Ontario. Quarries are almost always controversial. No one wants to live near an industrial pit with loud blasting, thick dust and a steady stream of big trucks. But the fight over the proposed Melancthon Quarry, about 120 kilometres north of Toronto, is different.

Unlike previous conflicts over quarries that tended to remain largely local schisms, the Melancthon battle has reverberated far and wide. The effort to stop the massive pit has united farmers and urbanites, renowned Toronto chefs and aboriginals, environmentalists and affluent entrepreneurs. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: McGuinty prorogation enables subpoena of Premier & other Ministers in $275 million seat-saver scandal

Senior-most Liberals Will Be Forced to Face Questioning On Flamborough Quarry

TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2012 /CNW/ – Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and other senior Cabinet Ministers will be subpoenaed and compelled to testify in the judicial review of the Liberal government’s decision to kill the proposed Flamborough Quarry. The judicial review will help determine whether the government acted improperly in cancelling a quarry in the riding of Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin in advance of the 2011 provincial election. St Marys Cement has also filed a NAFTA claim based on the regulatory failure in this case, and is seeking damages of not less than $275 million.

In May, St Marys Cement served a Notice of Application to review the decision by the McGuinty Liberals to issue a Minister’s Zoning Order and a Declaration of Provincial Interest to stop the proposed Flamborough Quarry. The provincial government brought forward a motion to have the application dismissed, a motion that has now been dismissed by the Ontario Divisional Court. The government has appealed this ruling.

Due to a common law principle that protects sitting members from being subpoenaed while the house is in session or on break for holiday, the decision by Dalton McGuinty to prorogue the Legislature presents the first opportunity for the Premier, in addition to Ministers Jim Bradley and Rick Bartolucci, to be forced to testify. The legal process will now be initiated with the full intention of hearing from key decision-makers around this decision to save the seat of a Liberal MPP. Continue Reading →