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JUNE / JULY Surface Operations - Buyer’s Guide Issue

After Mining, Pits and Quarries are

Changing the Landscape for the Better

Fleming says. The company has also

worked with the city of Chicago on a

major stormwater management project –

and they’ve developed a partnership with

Fairfax County, Virginia – a fast-growing

urban/suburban county of 1.1 million

outside Washington, D.C. – to build a

reservoir several times bigger even than

the one in Atlanta.

“We’re preparing our quarry pit for future

development as a reservoir which will add

a capacity of 15 billion gallons of water

for their use, and we’re talking pretty

long-term,” Fleming says. “In return for

working with them, they’ve also helped

provide us some additional property so

we can mine additional property that

would eventually become part of the

reservoir, but that doesn’t occur until

2085. So, they’re really thinking long-

term, which is good because that’s the

way we typically think.”

This kind of long-term planning is

important, says David Bieber, manager of

geology/survey for the Rocky Mountain

Division of Martin Marietta Materials.

Increasingly – and he’s an advocate for

this approach – companies are making

plans for the post-mining use of potential

quarry sites not as an afterthought but

as part of the planning process before

mining even begins. Once viewed as

a liability, he says, pits and quarries

can actually be significant assets when

mining is complete – and it’s important to

treat them that way.

“I believe we have an obligation, whether

we are the owners of a company or we

work for a publicly traded corporation, to

try and get the best and highest value out

of a piece of property for either ourselves

or for our stockholders,” Bieber says.

“So, with an eye toward that, how can we

maximize the value of a mining property

not just through the resource extraction

portion of it but also in that post-use?

That value may not necessarily be a

monetary value; that value may be a

social or aesthetic value that has a higher

level of usefulness.”


In some cases, the best use is obvious.

An urban water shortage, for example,

might point to an opportunity to offer a

water storage solution. In other cases,

the best use is not so obvious – and

may require the exploration of options

and conversations with a variety of local


Both Bieber and Fleming acknowledge

that this kind of planning can be tricky;

during the decades that a quarry

operates, a lot can change in terms of

surrounding land use. Often, a quarry site

that’s miles from town when it opens is

surrounded by development when mining

is complete. But that doesn’t eliminate the

benefits of thinking about long-term plans

from the start.

“Frequently, urbanization will grow up

around us or move around us. What

can we do that enhances that urban

environment through re-use of the

quarry?” Bieber says. “It may be that in

some areas the best re-use is returning

it to agriculture, because in some cases

you can generate higher-quality land

than was there before. I’ve seen pits, for

instance, turned into sod farms. I’ve seen

them turned into orchards, especially in


An example from his own experience of

the change in mindset is Quarry Park

Adventures in Rocklin, California. At the

start of the project, which he worked on

several years ago as a consultant, the

site was viewed as little more than a hole

in the ground; it turned out to be much


“The original thought was, ‘We’re just

going to let it fill with water because

there’s not really anything else to do,’”

he says. “We were utilizing the services

of a company that does these rock-

climbing gyms… to help us with our work

in mapping the walls, and one of the

suggestions of the owners of that is, ‘Well,

this would make a great adventure park

for rock climbing and stuff.’ And we talked

with the city about that and decided being

developed as a climbing-style adventure

park [was the best option].”