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Don James Looks Ahead

JamesMay 5, 2011 – Vulcan Materials released its first quarter 2011 financial report, and in dissecting it, it is interesting to read what the company's president, Don James, identifies as the factors that will influence demand for the company's products in 2011. He specifically cites 1) the need for modest growth in residential construction; 2) the stabilization of private nonresidential construction and 3) the continuity of federal funding for highways at current levels. "We expect the full year growth in volumes to be weighted more towards the second half of the year driven primarily by growth in demand," he said. "Certain large projects in a number of key markets are expected to drive aggregates volume growth in the second half of the year. The mid-point of our estimated range in aggregates shipments continues to be 2 percent above the prior year's level. Additionally, recent weather-related disruptions from tornadoes and flooding are likely to affect second quarter aggregates shipments in a number of southeastern and Mississippi River markets and push some demand to later in the year. We believe a more stable demand outlook will benefit pricing and we expect most of our markets to achieve year-over-year price growth in 2011. As a result, we continue to expect aggregates pricing in 2011 to increase 1 to 3 percent from the prior year's level. The earnings effect of the increase in aggregates pricing will be somewhat offset by the energy-related cost pressures expected throughout the remainder of the year. With that said, we expect aggregates earnings in 2011 to increase from the prior year due to higher shipments, increased average selling prices and the benefits of production efficiencies and cost management measures."

NIMBY up North

nimby2May 3, 2011 – There is a major NIMBY storm brewing in Canada. The Highland Companies is seeing local opposition to its proposed Melancthon Township, Ontario,  mega-quarry. The site is located in prime farmland in Ontario’s potato-growing region known for a rare type of soil that is particularly suited to potato cultivation, the locals say. If allowed to proceed it would reportedly be the second-largest U.S. owned quarry in Canada. “It will destroy productive farmland and threaten the headwaters of three important rivers – the Grand, the Nottawasaga and the Pine- water sources for one million people.” Carl Cosack, a local cattle and horse rancher told the local media. “200 ft. below the water table is deeper than Niagara Falls and will require the extraction of 600 million litres of water per day. They claim it will not have a negative impact, it’s simply not credible. The company application runs more than 3,100 pages, and took five years and 20 consulting firms to create. The public was given 45 days to respond." The Highand Companies disputes claims that its operation will have a negative environmental impact. Read its response here. Look for a full story in an upcoming issue of Rock Products.

Help for Alabama Tornado Victims

tornadoApril 28, 2011 – Ellen Smith, publisher of Mine Safety & Health News, and a health and safety contributor to Rock Products, is organizing a care-package project to help tornado victims in Alabama. Many of her subscribers, friends and family were affected, not to mention construction-materials companies in those areas. With help from an MSHA staff member, she has found a place to take "care package" donations The Red Cross will be making several pick-ups each day and distributing the packages to the areas in need. Donation items requested are: Bottled water, diapers, individually wrapped snacks, food and baby formula, as well as mouth wash, tooth paste and handi-wipes. Please send care packages to: Taylor Bug’s, 1355 Hueytown Road, Hueytown, AL 35023  205-491-2849. Best to use a U.S Postal Service Priority Mail box, and mark on the outside what is in it. Thanks for your help.

What's Up With Fuel Prices?

PumpsApril 26, 2011 – If you're a producer, your diesel prices are up. That ain't good. As fuel prices rise nationwide, the Obama administration announced last week the creation of a working group to investigate and prosecute suspected fraud in the energy markets. “There is no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away. But there are a few things we can do,” President Obama told a town hall meeting in Reno, Nev. Attorney General Eric Holder has assembled a team to monitor oil and gas markets for evidence of fraud or illegal manipulation that might affect gas prices, he said. “That includes the role of traders and speculators,” Obama added. “We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain,” he told the group. But a recent article on the blog The Infrastructurist is titled, "America's Low Gas Prices: A Global Perspective." You can pretty much figure out where that's going. The article also suggests that raising gas taxes is political suicide for whomever suggests it. That ain't good either. The beat goes on.

A Quarry with a Solar System

MarkWestApril 21, 2011 – California is a leader in the national effort to utilize more environmentally friendly forms of energy. So its no surprise that Santa Rosa, Calif.-based  BoDean Co.’s Mark West Quarry will make history on May 11 when they “flip the switch” and become the first quarry in the world to be 100 percent reliant on solar power. BoDean Co. owners, Belinda and Dean Soiland have made the BoDean Co. an industry leader in sustainability and eco-friendly mining operations. In addition to the use of solar, the company is also dedicated to the extensive use of recycled materials in its production process, as well as actively pursuing a managed reclamation plan that coincides with quarry operations. The Mark West Quarry photovoltaic system will be capable of generating 1,165,000 kilowatt hours of green energy per year.  The electricity produced by the solar panels will offset the release of 18,440,521 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, which is enough energy to power 160 typical American homes for a full year. Look for stories on this innovative operation in the May and June issue of Rock Products.