Ash Grove Cement to shuts Blubber Bay quarry down in 2010


Updated Mon, 14 Dec 2009 00:00:00 GMT

Texada Island residents were rocked by the announcement from Ash Grove Cement Company that it was shutting down quarry operations on February 1, 2010.

The company issued a release on November 30 stating that all production and maintenance activities at the company’s Blubber Bay limestone quarry will be indefinitely suspended.

"Ash Grove made the decision to suspend quarry operations due to a continued decline in demand for our aggregate product," the release stated. "At the present time, we do not see any future opportunities that would allow for continued operations at the quarry."

A total of eight full-time employees will be affected.

The quarry's history stretches back to 1907, when the Blubber Bay Syndicate built a lime burning kiln at Blubber Bay. In 2004, the quarry employed 63 people, but Ash Grove cut 20 per cent of the operation and 75 to 80 per cent of its workforce by the end of October that year.

Lafarge's Texada quarry also had bad news for its employees on Friday, November 27. It announced a work curtailment and temporary layoff for 28 employees, effective November 30.

"The current economic downturn has resulted in quarry tonnage dropping by 60 per cent and the number of employees to 72," said Kevin Spenst, Lafarge's general manager on Texada. "Unfortunately, adding to the present economic difficulties, many of Lafarge's customers have now scheduled shutdowns for their operations in December and January."

All of the quarry departments will be affected by the curtailment. The company will maintain adequate staffing through the end of 2009 and into 2010, to properly service the remaining business through the holiday shutdowns.

Lafarge has given its employees estimated return dates of January 4, January 18 and February 1, in anticipation of meeting customer's future demands. "The company wishes to thank not only its employees and their families, but also the Texada and Powell River communities for their continued support through these challenging times," Spenst said. "Lafarge looks forward to 2010 with the hope for aggregate demand increases, so the quarry may return to staffing levels reminiscent of 2007."

Lafarge's Texada quarry is one of the largest limestone quarries operating in Canada. Production levels reached 7.2 million tonnes in 2007, a banner year for the quarry, which at that time employed 116 people.