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Mining People Magazine

And that’s far from the only one. An

adventure park at a former Brownstone

quarry in Connecticut also offers a variety

of adventure water sports, including

things like cliff-jumping, extreme rope

swings, and scuba diving. In Texas, a

whole Six Flags amusement park was

built on a former quarry site.

In other cases, working with conservation

groups can lead to plans to develop

a quarry site in a way that helps local

wildlife. For example, Bieber says, in

Colorado Martin Marietta is partnering

with two bighorn sheep conservation

groups to improve sheep range habitat.

The company’s Midwestern division,

meanwhile, was recognized for its work

in repurposing a Kansas aggregate mine

site for wildlife habitat with ponds and


“Martin is trying to be the gold standard

for reclamation,” Bieber says. “We’re

trying to set the example of how to do

it, and sometimes it’s a little more costly

up front financially, but the goodwill it

generates [is well worth it].”

Sometimes, he says, sites in highly

urbanized areas – if properly managed

– can turn into some pretty valuable

real estate. Old cities like Boston have

a history dating back more than a

century of using former mine sites for

development. And across North America,

it’s not uncommon in major cities for

former pits and quarries to become

development sites for subdivisions and

shopping malls.

Even when the character of a site doesn’t

lend itself to high-value use, Bieber says,

it can still have a value that’s useful to

the community. For example, a site that’s

flood-prone can be used as a park or

amphitheater. He says he likes to think

in terms of adaptive re-use rather than


“I don’t really like the term reclamation

per se, because reclamation presumes

putting it back to its pre-mining use in a

lot of ways, and that’s not always the best

thing,” he says. “In fact, in some cases

it’s far from the best thing, from not just a

financial but from a societal standpoint.”

Bieber says some changes in the

way companies think about and plan

for a property after mining could go a

long way toward continuing the trend

toward innovative projects that help

both communities and the bottom line.

For example, instead of looking at

reclamation as an operating expense,

they can look at the money spent on

site improvements as an investment that

generates an asset value – whether the

property is ultimately repurposed for an

industrial use or sold for development.

In some cases, he says, mining on a site

may be secondary to the post-mining

value. For example, converting a rugged

hillside to commercial development might

create a lot of value in a highly urbanized

area where land values are high. The

same can be said of excavating a water

storage facility in the western U.S.,

where landowners may look to partner

with mining companies to develop

infrastructure to meet local water needs.

“Typically, when people are doing the

economics of a site, they’re not including

the post-mining value of that property;

they’re just looking at the resource

value,” he says. “They’re not looking at

the post-mining land values and adding

that back in. And, say the mining may

generate X but the re-use will generate

Y, we really should be looking at the full

value proposition.”

What can you do with a hole in the

ground? This is far from a comprehensive

list, but here are a few examples.

Municipal Water Management

Vulcan Materials shared three great

examples of projects where a former

quarry became a key piece of water

infrastructure for major US cities,

enabling them to meet longstanding

needs and improve the quality of life for

millions of people.

Chicago, Illinois

“Several years ago, Chicago began

looking for a solution to their flooding

problems,” says Jimmy Fleming, vice

president of permitting and external

relations for Vulcan.

“They have what they call a combined

sewer overflow situation, so the sewer

and stormwater utilize the same

pipes…. So, with the city, we built them

a reservoir for stormwater overflow. It

provides a way for them to dispose of

that stormwater, and hold it in an area,

instead of it flushing into the rivers or into

somebody’s basement – because that’s

what was happening in a lot of low areas

in Chicago.”

This reservoir, he says, was excavated

over 12 years of intensive quarry

operation, creating 10 billion gallons

of storage capacity – and ultimately

reducing the severity of flooding in the

nation’s third-largest city.

Atlanta, Georgia

Unlike a lot of comparable cities, Atlanta

gets most of its water from a single, not-

so-large source: the Chattahoochee River

and Lake Lanier, which was created with

a dam on the river more than 60 years

ago. The booming city’s water source

has, at times, come close to running dry.

The solution, it turned out, was sitting

right under the city’s nose: Mining was

completed at a quarry large enough to

hold 2 billion gallons of water. Vulcan

sold the former quarry to the city for $40

million, and planning began for a major

city project.

The city is investing an estimated $400

million in infrastructure that includes a

5-mile tunnel and a system to control the

flow of water. The area around the new

reservoir will also be developed into a

huge city park, which is expected to drive

development in adjoining neighborhoods

as well as helping meet the need for

green space on the city’s west side.

Washington, D.C.

Fairfax County, Virginia, is a hotbed of

urban growth around the nation’s capital,

Bellwood Quarry, Photos provided by - PC/Russell JV, the CMAR

Pits with Potential continued