Lafarge North America, which plans to open a new quarry in Lockport, is to hold a tour of its existing quarry where it blasts out tons of stone each year.
The open house next Saturday will see visitors taken by bus to view the blasting sites and heavy machinery used to turn the Lockport dolomite stone into aggregate used in paving asphalt, as well as other grades of stone used for everything from ready-mix concrete to filling driveways.
Perry Galdenzi, Lafarge project manager, told local newspaper Buffalo News, it’s the first open house Lafarge has held in about 10 years.
The existing quarry yields 1.5 million to 2 million tons of stone a year, but only about a two years’ supply is left, according to operations director Tony Distefano.
To win approval from the city for the blasting, Lafarge had to prove to the satisfaction of an engineering firm hired by the city that the blasting on the 9-acre site wouldn’t wreck the city’s century-old drinking water supply line from the Niagara River, which runs right past the quarry on its way to the city filtration plant on Summit Street.
Lafarge also had to pledge to create a $500,000 repair fund to pay for any blasting-relating damage to the pipeline, and also agreed to pay the city $50,000 to replace the valve that connects the city’s water system to the Niagara County Water District pipeline as an emergency water source.
The city is applying for a $3 million state grant that would cover about half the cost of replacing the last two miles of the pipeline from the river.
Distefano said the Murphy property will be cleared this winter, and mining will start there next spring.
At present, the mining operations are concentrated in the Town of Lockport portion of the quarry, in a strip of ground about a mile long and 162 feet wide, for which Lafarge won a permit from the town in December 2012.
Galdenzi said three residents have been included on a community advisory group, in hopes of winning some cooperation. “A lot of these people, their backyards are going to back up onto the new site,” Galdenzi said. “So how high do you want the berms? What trees do you want planted. What do you want it to look like?”
In recent years, Lafarge bought up most of the land on the south side of Hinman Road in the Town of Lockport, where it hopes to obtain state Department of Environmental Conservation permission to open a new 243-acre quarry. The company is awaiting DEC comments on a draft environmental impact statement.
The new quarry may last as long as 50 years, Galdenzi said. Distefano said about two years after it’s open, the primary stone crusher will be shifted to the new site, but a covered conveyor will be built over the road to move the stone to the processing equipment at the old quarry.
The existing quarry, which has been in business for more than 70 years, originally was known as Frontier Stone, but it was sold and resold a few times. Lafarge took over the 300-acre property when it acquired Redlands Quarry in 1997. The latter name still is being used by Lafarge in its filings with the DEC.