As Lloyd detailed in an earlier post on the enormous ecological footprint of concrete, a US-owned hedge fund is proposing a mega-quarry in Melancthon, about an hour and a half away from Toronto. It's an area best known for its excellent agricultural land and favourable micro-climate, but if the project goes ahead, thousands of acres will be dug up for limestone aggregate, creating Canada's largest open-pit mine, and second largest in North America. To give you a better frame of reference, the quarry would be greater in height than Niagara Falls.
The Highland Companies also plans to pump 600 millions of litres of water used in the quarry floors back into recharge wells, raising concerns that this could contaminate drinking water supplies of over a million Ontarians further south with blasting residue and diesel fuels. More information in this video:
The Highlands company started buying farmland in Melancthon several years ago saying they wanted to become the province's largest potato growing operation -- which made sense to local farmers as the area is well known for its particularly high quality soil and micro-climate. After many local farmers had sold their farms -- some of which had been in the family for generations -- the real motives of the company became apparent. Under that rich and rare soil is a fortune in high quality limestone worth upwards of eight billion dollars.
However, it's clear that the environmental impact of the proposed quarry is mind-boggling. Not only would it destroy agricultural land, increase heavy traffic on country roads, it would also affect the Nottawasaga, Credit, Grand River, Pine, Humber, Noisy, Boyne, Mad and Saugeen Rivers, which all have their source in this watershed area north of Toronto.
Highland is currently in the process of applying for a permit from the Ontario government, but locals and many other concerned citizens are organizing to stop the quarry. There's a online petition, plus the deadline to register opposition (online here) with the Ontario Environmental Registry is July 11, 2011. There is also a rally planned for July 21, 2011 at noon at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (77 Wellesley Street West, Toronto).
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More on Quarries
Why Concrete's Colossal Footprint is More Complicated Than You Think (and Why That Matters to Everyone)
Old Quarries Going Back to Wild Habitat for Threatened Species
Big Step in Building: Use Green Gravel To Make Concrete