Vulcan gets environmental approval

By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – Proponents of the Black Point Quarry project were in a celebratory mood last week when Environment Minister Margaret Miller gave environmental approval to the plan for a 355-hectare granite quarry, with a marine terminal and loading facility alongside in Chedabucto Bay.

On April 26, Miller said that any adverse or significant environmental effects of the $100 million project can be mitigated through terms and conditions. The environmental assessment was a joint provincial-federal process.

“There is still work to be done,” said Frank Leith, director of corporate services at project-lead Vulcan Materials, during an interview with The Journal. “There are additional industrial and environmental permits to obtain. And we have to assess all conditions of approval.” Leith said the company continues to work with local partners and anticipates making a final investment decision over the next two years.

“We are pleased with the ministerial decisions,” he said. “And we are grateful to all the stakeholders including the community liaison committee, Morian Resources, MODG, the Mi’kmaq people and the people of Nova Scotia. We also appreciate the professionalism of the regulatory agencies who have assessed the project.”

Once operational, the quarry is expected to create 50 jobs.

“It certainly is a good day for the municipality,” said Warden Vernon PItts. “These 50-plus jobs equate to 50 families who have or will be putting down roots in our municipality. Fifty young families with their children going to our schools, utilizing various services being offered throughout the municipality.”

Pitts said he doesn’t see the conditions attached to the environmental approval as including “any major show-stoppers”. He said a number of the listed conditions are requirements council would want to see, “as stewards of our municipality.” The proposed project will have a minimal impact on the environment when it comes to air quality, noise levels, dust, impact on wildlife, wetland areas and water courses, said Pitts.

“This is not rocket science. What they’re proposing to do is take big rocks and make little rocks, load them on ships and export into the Eastern/Southern United States. This material will be delivered by sea and will have virtually no impact on our road system, which is an added bonus due to the present conditions of the road system throughout the municipality.”

While project lead Vulcan Materials of Birmingham, Alabama, still needs to obtain a number of permits before breaking ground, Pitts notes that “council and staff, along with our residents, would like to see shovels in the ground sooner rather than later. The Municipality has and will continue to work with Vulcan as they continue working towards their final investment decision.”

Lloyd Hines, MLA for Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, shared in the enthusiasm for the environmental approval. “The announcement...is good news for Eastern Nova Scotia and the Province,” said Hines.

“Congratulations to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough who have set the table to enable this development to move forward. Now the work really begins to build the project over the next period,” said Hines.

During the environment assessment consultation, there were questions and concerns over the quarry’s effects on water quality and use; wetlands; local fisheries and aquatic habitat; mainland moose; heritage and archaeological resources; noise and dust; and tourism. The project is subject to numerous terms and conditions, including mitigation plans for protecting water and wetlands, managing light, noise and dust, and the need to stop work if archaeological sites or artifacts are unearthed.

Requirements also include creating a community liaison committee, a complaint resolution plan, and ongoing engagement with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia.