Kyrock mining could save money, energy in paving
(Kentucky) — About 50 years ago, Edmonson County’s Kentucky Rock Asphalt quarry closed because it was no longer economically feasible to operate.
Now the skyrocketing price of oil – $126 a barrel on Friday – is making it feasible again to mine kyrock, a sandstone that is saturated with oil.
Reynolds Raw Materials on Friday officially dedicated Indian Creek and Natural Rock Asphalt quarries, operated by Hart County Stone, which already has provided material to be used for paving the bypass around Glasgow and several county roads, according to William R. Florman, a Reynolds family member and company spokesman.
Western Kentucky geology associate professor Mike May is excited about the facility’s opening not only because it can provide cheaper asphalt for the paving industry but also because it can be used as a teaching tool for WKU geology students.
May said what is mined in Kyrock (the name of the community from which the material is taken) is a natural asphalt. Because the sandstone is so saturated with oil, it can be mixed with less oil to make pavement.
Why is the material there? May said Edmonson County is on the rim of the Illinois basin that is loaded with oil and gas deposits; that oil has pushed its way into the crevices of the county’s porous sandstone.
During its heyday, the material was shipped around the world, first via barges that left the area on the Nolin River.
Then the price of oil plummeted, making it cheaper to purchase enough oil to mix asphalt, rather than get it from the rock that had to be extracted from the ground and then transported long distances.
Now, however, the high price of oil makes kyrock seem feasible once more.
As an example, using 20 percent kyrock in the paving mix required for Interstate 65 would save the state $6.50 a ton, Florman said.
Larry Glass, president of Glass Construction in Glasgow, used kyrock in paving the city’s bypass, and said it should help save energy.
Also making it more feasible to open the mines again are the state’s stricter road construction standards regarding anti-skidding materials, which went into effect in 2000, Florman said.
“Kyrock is a very angular silica sand that meets specs for anti-skid aggregate for road use,” he said.
Glass said the anti-skid properties make it safer to drive on when wet; it also lasts longer than traditional pavement.
Florman said kyrock was the first paving material used at the Indianapolis Speedway.
“The kyrock deposit … has a reserve estimate of over 300 million tons. The property is controlled by the Reynolds family and was purchased by William G. Reynolds back in the mid-’50s. The property is comprised of over 60,000 acres of mineral and mining deeds as well as several thousand acres of surface. The quality of the material and the size of the reserves makes kyrock one of Kentucky’s most abundant natural resources,” according to the company’s Web site, kyrock.net.
Reynolds of Reynolds Metals fame was Florman’s grandfather.
The Reynolds Foundation that is affiliated with the company will likely be making a substantial contribution to WKU to establish a Geological Resource Center at WKU’s Innovation and Research Center.
“That is something we are interested in doing and are working out the details,” Florman said. “What we are looking to do is produce the type of geologists and interns that could be useful for our resources and for other companies.”
The Reynolds Foundation has contributed to endowments at William and Mary College and Yale University.
May said materials taken from core drilling at the quarry could be taken to the center and studied by students. The center also could provide information and networking for professionals in the paving industry.
By ROBYN L. MINOR, The Daily News