CAC Submission to Standing Committee on General Government - Aggregate Resources Act review
Presented by Michael McSweeney, CAC President and CEO, on behalf of the Cement Association of Canada
May 14, 2012
(Check against delivery and or transcript)
Thank you for this opportunity to appear before the committee to provide the thoughts and perspectives of cement manufacturers in Ontario on the Aggregate Resources Act review.
The Cement Association of Canada represents cement manufacturers across Canada, including Ontario. Ontario cement manufacturers include Lafarge North America, St. Marys Cement, Holcim Canada, Essroc Italcementi and Federal White Cement.
Cement is the glue that holds concrete together. It is a very fine, dry powder that is sold in bulk or bags.
Cement is produced by extracting limestone and small amounts of sand and clay, usually from a quarry located near a cement manufacturing plant. The extracted materials are analyzed, blended with additional mineral components and finely ground for further processing. They are then heated in a kiln at a temperature close to 1,470 degrees Celsius. The heat transforms the materials into a molten product called clinker, which is rapidly cooled. The clinker is stored and finely ground. Gympsum is added to control setting time, along with other supplementary cementing materials (fly ash or slag) to obtain a fine powder called cement.
Economic Contribution to Ontario
The cement and concrete industries employ over 16,000 Ontarians and generate over $6 billion of economic activity in the province. They also allow the province to be fully self-sufficient in meeting cement demand. We know this is important given the vast amount of spending by both government and the private sector.
Cement, concrete and aggregates, located in most ridings across Ontario, are important industries supporting a $37 billion construction industry. Without access to aggregates, our industry cannot survive.
Over 85% of ready-mix concrete is composed of aggregate. When you take a look around you every day you see the importance of this concrete in our hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and the buildings we call home.
Given the critical importance of our nation’s infrastructure in maintaining jobs and promoting economic growth; and the growing importance of sustainable construction, cement needs to be seen as one of Ontario’s most important and strategic commodities. Can you imagine importing cement from Asia or Brazil and all the greenhouse gases that would create, let alone dealing with the costs of shipping and the security of knowing we can get cement when we need cement.
In fact, concrete is the most used man-made commodity not only in Canada, but in the world with over 3,000 tonnes per year being consumed by every woman, man and child. Governments are the largest single customer for concrete. Almost 60% of Ontario’s aggregates are used by the public sector. The demand for infrastructure is expanding as the population increases. At the same time current infrastructure is aging. As a result, demand for cement, concrete and aggregates will only increase.
Continued access to aggregate is essential to the future prosperity of Ontario.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Equally as important, is our industry’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and to working with non-governmental organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations, and local communities. We are strong believers in taking a cooperative and collaborative approach.
Our member companies have recent experience working in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defence, Habitat for Humanity, Earth Rangers, and Pollution Probe to name a few. Our companies recognize the importance of communicating regularly with local communities and consulting with them on initiatives that are in their area.
We support initiatives that reward industry and stakeholders who have formed partnerships to work cooperatively together to develop solutions.
From other presentations, you have heard about the (AFO) Aggregate Form of Ontario and (SERA) the Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregate forum which are examples of industry and ENGOS working together to create a voluntary certification within the industry. These initiatives increase environmental stewardship and community engagement.
Other presentations have talked about rehabilitation. Pits and quarries become wildlife habitats, recreational parks, and agricultural land. These former pits and quarries are rehabilitated back into the landscape and available for public enjoyment.
I want to highlight a quote from the Earth Rangers Centre for Sustainable Technology. Earth Rangers is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to educating children and their families about biodiversity loss. A recent quote from their President and CEO Mark Northwood stated, “We chose concrete as the material of choice for our building because of its comparatively low impact on biodiversity, its longevity, and thermal qualities. also believe in aggregates as a top choice for building materials because of the cement industry’s ability to recover, and, in most cases, increase the state of biodiversity on their properties.”
We believe strongly in working with all local stakeholders – local municipalities, environmental groups and the general public. We are committed to sustainability and responsible stewardship and we are a willing environmental partner.
Importance of Local
We need ready access to aggregates. Local aggregate sources are critical for our industry and are more environmentally friendly, requiring less transportation over long distances. In fact, the State of the Aggregate Resources of Ontario study confirmed that a close to market supply is environmentally responsible policy as it requires less travel, consumes less fuel, and as a result generates less greenhouse gas emissions.
However, close to market supplies are quickly depleting. It is estimated that the GTA only produces about 50% of what it consumes and the rest is imported from beyond the GTA. As previously noted in other presentations, the State of the Aggregate Resources of Ontario study states that within a decade there will be shortages in the GTA for high quality stone.
With over 200 cranes in the sky in the GTA – most for concrete buildings – access to aggregates is vital.
Just as the ‘100 mile diet’ or local food movement is growing in popularity and importance, so too should our focus on local aggregates. Local food policies make economic and environmental sense and so do local aggregate policies. Each new aggregate pit or quarry brings new local jobs and investment in the local economy. The local food movement promotes sustainability as do local aggregate resources. The same principles that are applied to local food should be applied to aggregates. It makes economic sense and it makes environmental sense.
The State of the Aggregate Resources of Ontario study also confirmed that stone, sand and gravel are non-renewable resources.
Ontario consumes 160 million tonnes per year. With governments consuming 60% of aggregates, close to market sources are depleting. need to protect those resources for the future. We need to confirm and support a close to market supply. The reality is – nothing gets built in Ontario without aggregates. It is in the province’s best interest to protect and manage these resources.
We need to develop a clear, efficient permitting process to assist small businesses and attract international players by creating certainty in the process. In order for Ontario to remain a place where companies want to invest and to conduct business in, business needs certainty and expects reasonable time periods for the permitting process. Certainly we can all agree that waiting up to nine years for a permit is not efficient or reasonable and will not attract jobs to our province.
Ontario is currently governed by more than 25 provincial, federal, and municipal statutes. There is a need to streamline and integrate overlapping legislation.
We believe in sustainable resource management by balancing the needs of the environment, the economy, the province, and local communities. Producing aggregate close to market is sustainable.
We know there are concerns raised about the local environmental impact. We believe in working with the local communities to address any concerns in advance and to balance any impacts with the net gain to natural heritage systems through land rehabilitations successes. As previously stated, rehabilitated pits and quarries become recreational parks, golf courses, and wildlife habitats.
In closing, the cement industry has come a long way. Today, the industry as a whole is striving to be more environmentally responsible and identifying innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint.
The Aggregate Resources Act is an effective means to license new pits and quarries, to regulate its day to day operations and rehabilitation. It allows for important public input and strong enforcement. The Aggregate Resources Act is not broken, it just needs to be tinkered with to meet today's demands by business and communities
We believe that corporate social responsibility is essential. We must work with ENGOs, NGOs, and local communities to ensure a stable aggregate supply that is sensitive to local concerns and our cement companies do just that.
I want to leave you with two important messages - the government must take action to enhance business certainty and ensure access to local aggregates so that we can remain sufficiently competitive to retain and grow investment in Ontario. Aggregates are a strategic commodity in Ontario. We must protect and manage these important resources.
At the same time, we must increase public confidence by facilitating dialogue and partnerships between industry, environmental groups and local communities. Open communication and consultation will go a long way to establishing trust and increasing that confidence.
Once again, I would like to thank you for allowing us to share our views with you and would welcome any questions from committee members.