PORT HAWKESBURY: Martin Marietta has announced a capital investment of $50 million to modernize its quarry facility in Auld’s Cove.

Keith Flynn, plant manager at the Porcupine Mountain Quarry announced the revitalization project last Wednesday at the annual “State of the Strait Region Business Update” at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.

“With the funding provided by FAST [Fixing American’s Surface Transportation] Act and other state and local initiatives, they’re really predicting a positive outlook for aggregate intensive highway and street construction in 2018 to 2019,” said Flynn. “That, along with our outdated and aging plant equipment, has led us to initiate the $50 million modernization project over the next five to six years that will see us replace all of our current infrastructure.”

The Porcupine Mountain facility is one of Canada’s largest producers of construction aggregate – a mixture of materials such as crushed stone, sand and gravel – that is used in the production of concrete and asphalt for roads and other infrastructure.

“Our quarry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we employ 117 people and quite a few contractors,” said Flynn. “In 2017, we loaded 55 ships and 25 barges with about 3.5 million tonnes of aggregate.”

The investment will allow the quarry to update its process to move product to market more efficiently. Currently, the facility runs three small plants spread across the property with approximately ten crushers and over 100 conveyer belts.

“We’re going to be moving to an operation that basically has a large crushing plant that will crush the material that we blast in our pit and send it to the secondary and tertiary plants,” said Flynn.

The new system will use a tunnel to move the product to the final phase of production where it will be washed and loaded onto ships.

“This will take us down to basically six large capacity crushers and 40 conveyer belts and we’ll have about 50 per cent more capacity than we have today,” said Flynn. “It’s really a shift in how we do it, so it’s really a more modern approach to the same market.”

Flynn said the quarry’s current capacity is approximately 2,000 tonnes per hour. Once the overhaul is completed, the number will increase to 3,000.

“The first phase of this project, which is currently out for tender, is the replacement of our ship-building and our rinse plant facilities. The work on that should start sometime this summer. It will probably last about a year,” said Flynn.

“The second phase will be the installation of the crushing plant, which will be at the beginning of the process. Then we’ll put the two middle plants in as the last phase of the revitalization project.”