Integrating sustainability into operations (Part 1)

By |  July 29, 2022
AMCAST’s Tomaso Veneroso says sustainability should be a fundamental component of any business. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

AMCAST’s Tomaso Veneroso says sustainability should be a fundamental component of any business. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

The following transcript is from one of two concurrent discussions at this year’s Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference. Both conversations were edited for brevity and clarity.

P&Q: ‘Sustainability’ is a buzzword that’s been around for a number of years, but we’re seeing more use of this term and embrace of this concept within the aggregate industry of late. Sustainability, of course, means different things to different people. For equipment suppliers, sustainability might mean providing longer-lasting solutions. For construction materials producers, the term might mean developing more durable materials. For aggregate producers, it might mean fully maximizing the reserves of a pit or quarry. For your business, how does the concept of sustainability resonate? Is sustainability driving equipment suppliers’ offerings or how producers go about doing business? Also, at the end of the day, how does the idea of ‘financial sustainability’ fit into the equation when making decisions around the concept of sustainability?

TOMASO VENEROSO (AMCAST): Sustainability is not only at work; it’s something we can plan for accurately. It is actually something that makes a difference. With sustainability in the mining and aggregate world, it’s wise for any manager to always keep it in mind. Sustainability is fundamental for any business.

CORY DANNER (ARCOSA AGGREGATES): Sustainability [is] part of ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues. As part of long-term strategies, we talk about it quite frequently. But that’s what got us into the recycled concrete business, mainly in Texas.

Sustainability [is] maximizing the reserves at a location, making sure we are responsible and get the best out of the land we do have. But then it’s end of life, making sure we leave our mine as a usable piece of property for farmlands, wetlands – whatever it is. Is it going to be exactly as it was when we got the property? No. But will it still be a viable, usable piece of property for society? Yes.

MARVIN WOODIE (CONN-WELD): I don’t think our mining companies advertise what they’ve done well with sustainability. One of the biggest surface mines in Illinois has some of the best deer hunting now because of reclamation. The state of West Virginia, [because of] reclamation, has some of the best deer hunting, turkey hunting and bear hunting. One of the best bass fishing [locations] in Florida is on an old reclaimed phosphate mine, but we’re not advertising that. We’re not out there saying: ‘Hey, you can go catch a 10-pound bass in Florida on reclaimed phosphate mines.’ We all see this, but we don’t get to the right media source or outlet to proclaim our victories in reclamations.

If we ever put a shovel in the ground to mine a product, you have to have a bond; you have to have insurance. But you’ll reclaim that back if that’s possible. And we do that.



MICHELE STANLEY (NSSGA): [At the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA)], we have a sustainability task force. One of the things they are putting together is what we’re calling sustainability stories, taking a look at all of those things; and not only talking reclamation, but what [producers] are doing at facilities now.

We have members who are running their plants on solar. We have members who are using the water continuously that’s on their facilities. So it’s just talking more about it in a way that puts it into the public and, selfishly, will help us when we go to the Hill to talk to members of Congress about our industry. Because they have a very basic knowledge of [the industry]. We have these sorts of stories to go up there and say: ‘This is actually what’s happening; you might think it’s X, but it’s actually Y. And this is why our members are doing great things for the environment.’

If you have those stories, send them my way. Because the more we can have that reflect specific districts, the better it will help us when we go up to the Hill.

On EPDs (environmental product declarations): We realize we’re a little behind the game. NAPA (the National Asphalt Pavement Association) and NRMCA (the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association) have environmental product declarations and tools out there that their members can use depending on if projects call for them, or [if] you need them in the marketplace. We are in the process of putting that together for our membership.

CHRIS KIMBALL (BELT-TECH INDUSTRIAL): I like the thought of sustainability and awareness of our companies, advertising sustainability by [utilizing] media to deliver that message. If our target is teenagers and young people coming into the workforce, though, these are TikTok and Instagram users. Are we using those means to reach them?



CURTIS LEDERLE (TREAD TECHNOLOGIES): I have this cool memory of my childhood. In northern Minnesota, there are a lot of iron mines. We used to go to this lake called Lake Ore-be-gone. It was literally an old mine that had been reclaimed. They had left some of the equipment down there, filled it up with water and you can get your scuba training [there] now.

So there’s all sorts of creative, fun ideas that can be really positive. Champion these stories and get them out to people so they’re looking at them.

SCOTT ALEXANDER (KILGORE COMPANIES): There are countless stories like that. I started my career in 1982 at a sand and gravel operation. We turned it into a golf course. Later, we recognized there were more reserves below. We got it back from the city, mined it again, and now it’s probably one of the most desirable areas in Denver to live in.

As Cory mentioned: Is the property going to be the same as when we went in there? No. But, oftentimes, it can be better. As an industry we can thank ourselves for these kinds of things.

It seems like a somewhat recent development – one of the past couple of years – where the whole ESG initiative is being pushed by the financial community, and especially for publicly traded companies. They’re really putting it to the forefront. Most companies are making that a very important part of the business. As companies have to publicly publish their ESG initiatives, that’s going to help us and benefit us.

Featured photo: PamElla Lee Photography

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