- © 2004 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Aggregates (sand, gravel, and crushed stone) are low unit-cost products extracted in very large volumes for the construction of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure essential to modern society. Because of their low unit value, transportation costs are a key factor in resource economics, and deposits are commonly developed close to market (i.e., close to towns and cities, or along low-cost transportation corridors). This proximity results in potential conflict with residents over land use, disturbance, and pollution. Management of aggregate resources in Alberta is examined in the light of resource geology and distribution, and governance. A case history of development of the Calahoo-Villeneuve deposit is described, and the conflicts between residents and developers that led to establishment of an Area Structure Plan (ASP) are explored. The plan sets limits to, but at the same time safeguards, resource extraction, and defines terms for compensation to residents through a voluntary levy on production (Community Enhancement Fund). This fund is used to support community activities and to pay for a groundwater monitoring program. The ASP is examined within the context of the “Seven Questions to Sustainability” as set out by Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development-North America (2002). It is concluded that the ASP, for the most part, provides a good model for conflict resolution and sustainable resource development, which could usefully be applied in other jurisdictions. The ASP was developed at a municipal level, and adoption at a provincial level would aid sustainable development of aggregate resources across the province.