Leaving the land better than we found it

Environment Friendly Living

In our aggregates operations, this means being mindful that we are only interim users of the land, says

David Hanratty

, Director of Land and Resources for Votorantim Cimentos North America. “Our goal is to restore every acre to a condition equal to or better than its original state.”

Ontario site garners top award

The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (OSGA) has awarded top honors to two Ontario projects undertaken by Canada Building Materials (CBM), part of the North American operations of Votorantim Cimentos.

OSSGA gave its top prize, the 2016 Judge’s Choice Award, to CBM for its recent work in restoring the Diocese Pit near London, Ontario. The 25-hectare pit was an active operation between 1997 and 2004, providing quality aggregate materials for road and building projects in the London area.

Before CBM acquired it as an aggregate operation, most of the site had historically been used as a summer camp operated by the Diocese of London, since the soil was too poor and rocky for farming.

After extraction, experts determined there was not enough soil on site to create a good workable depth for agricultural purposes. So from 2004 to 2015, high-quality sub-soil and top soil were brought to the site from nearby farmlands undergoing conversion to subdivisions and stockpiled until they reached sufficient levels to support the rehab project.

Creating new farmland from spent aggregate operations

The objective for the final 13-hectare portion of the Diocese site was to create high-quality agricultural lands, seamlessly blending the section with other portions that had been successfully rehabilitated as recently as 2014.

“We imported greenfield fill to create a better contour for the fields which makes it more consistent and easier to manage than the original site,” says

Stephen May

, CBM’s Western Region Lands and Resource Manager, who managed the project. “This enabled us to increase the depth of topsoil while providing an improved agricultural field that could immediately go into production.”

Approximately 130,000 m


of material were added to the site, with contouring taking place in the summer and fall months of 2015. About 20,000m


of topsoil were spread to a depth of 30 cm to complete the contouring.  The soil was tilled and seeded with corn in April 2016.

In a near-drought year, the corn crop yielded an average of 60 bushels per hectare for the new field. Some portions produced 120 bushels, on par with the rehabbed McGuffin Pit immediately to the east, which averaged 120 bushels for the season.

“McGuffin grew chick peas and then soybeans to help build nutrients in the soil and then went into corn,” May notes. “Diocese is a great example of agricultural lands being restored to productivity almost immediately after rehabilitation is complete – an outcome that we don’t hear about often in our industry, but one that is well within reach.”

The gentle contouring of the side slopes to blend with the adjacent McGuffin license allows agriculture equipment to work continuously through both properties, May adds. After the soil structure has a few more seasons to adjust, crop yields are expected to exceed adjacent fields.

Second Ontario project recognized

OSSGA also recognized CBM’s rehabilitation of the north face and floor of the Archer Pit near Codrington, Ontario, about 160 km northeast of Toronto.

The 5.9-hectare site was acquired by CBM aggregates in 2008 in nearly spent condition. The plan was to use the site for a haul road that would connect a newly acquired extraction site directly north and adjacent to the Archer property with local County Road 30.

Aggregate extraction originally began at the site in the 1970s, producing some 20,000 tonnes annually, mostly for local road projects. Prior to extraction, the lands had been a mix of forested and open space.

“Our rehabilitation efforts focused on returning the site to this naturalized state,” says

Mike Le Breton

, Lands and Resource Manager for CBM aggregates in eastern Ontario, who directed the restoration project.

The 1.8-hectare slope and floor was the final section of the overall site to be reclaimed. Rehabilitation began in August 2014 after licensing for the new site was finalized. CBM loaders moved approximately 6,000 m


of overburden and placed it at a 3:1 slope, which replicates the surrounding topology.

With the slope grade established, local excavating partner


bailed topsoil from storage berms atop the slope onto the work area and spread the topsoil at a thickness of 12 inches across the slope and pit floor.

In September 2015, CBM employees used an ATV with a spreader attachment to seed the area with a rye-clover mix applied at a rate of 125 kg per hectare. OSSGA’s award for progressive rehabilitation of the land noted that the results, surveyed in 2016, were found to seamlessly match other surrounding areas.

In Central Illinois, 80 acres ready for farming in award-winning project

The Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers (IAAP) recognized a Central Illinois site rehabilitated by Votorantim Cimentos company Prairie Material with its Certificate of Achievement in Environmental Excellence for 2016.

The Fairbury Pit in Lexington County, Illinois, is an 80-acre site that began operating in 1993. Prairie Material acquired the site license in 1997 and completed operations in 2008. Over its useful life, Fairbury provided base materials for road builders and construction companies, along with various grades of aggregate for ready-mix producers, agricultural lime for local farmers and even crushed gravel and sand for baseball diamonds in the central part of the state.

One side benefit of the extraction process was the creation of a 50-acre lake in the middle of the property that is currently home to a variety of local fish species, including blue gill, bass, catfish and carp. “We did not stock the lake,” says

Nilden Berns

, Environmental and Land Manager for US aggregates operations. “Fish eggs arrived naturally on feathers and legs of ducks, geese, and other birds that picked them up from stocked quarries in the area and deposited them here.”

Prairie environmental experts followed the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) standards as the baseline for determining the level of success for the lake and surrounding mined lands. Using preserved overburden, the team established a 3:1 slope around the lake and graded the top soil to an average depth of 9 inches.  The landowner plans to grow soy beans and corn on the property, with cultivation beginning in spring 2017.

Setting new standards for the industry to follow

“We are proud to receive recognition for our efforts to return extracted lands to equal or better health than their original condition,” says

Edilson Chimilovski

, President & General Manager, Aggregates, for Votorantim Cimentos’ North American operations.

“Our vision is to create a blueprint for land usage and restoration that not only works for our own operations around the world, but also one that our industry can follow,” he says. “The goal is to act as good stewards of the land and good neighbors within the communities where our operations are located.”​

It’s a long-term view, says Chimilovski — one that pays lasting dividends for the company, its customers, the environment and society as a whole.

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.stmaryscement.com

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