Lehigh Hanson declines Canada mining project

Lehigh Hanson Materials, part of HeidelbergCement, has pulled its application to do exploratory work for a potential gravel mine just north of Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, reports Powell River Peak.

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park is a provincial park in British Columbia, Canada, and is located approximately 20 miles north of Powell River and 90 miles north of Vancouver.

Alberta-based aggregate company Lehigh Hanson Materials has announced it is abandoning its application to pursue exploratory surface drilling in the Lloyd Creek area just north Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park.

The company, which extracts about four million tons of aggregate annually from its Sechelt and Chilliwack mines alone, had planned to drill in early September to determine the viability of a 1.2-square-kilometre gravel quarry in the Desolation Sound area.

Jeff Sieg, Corporate communications director, Lehigh Hanson, says the compoany recognized early on that mining in the area would not be economically feasible and the company routinely looks at sites across Canada and the United States. BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations granted Lehigh Hanson’s application to do exploratory work last fall.

“We’ve been looking at the property for some time, in terms of evaluating whether it would be feasible to mine it, and we’ve said from the very beginning that it’s just an exploratory process,” said Sieg. “Obviously, bringing in drilling equipment and contractors would be very expensive, so we just decided early on to not take it any further.”

Sieg said the company did take negative public response to the application into account, but it was only part of a bigger picture about the viability of the project.

“With any process in terms of going in and mining a site, whether we go in and mine it or not, working with the community is always a factor,” said Sieg. “If the community is opposed to it and we have to hold community meetings, then those are all factors in cost and effort, such as community response, expense, transportation and permitting issues, et cetera.”

Powell River Regional District and Tla’amin Nation both gave conditional approval for the Lehigh’s investigative licence, but stated at the time if the project had moved forward they would want another chance to comment.

As much as 70 million tons of gravel is estimated to be located in the Lloyd Creek area, which is about five kilometres northeast of the Desolation Sound provincial park boundary.

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