Cornerstone Standards Council (CSC), a Canadian non-profit organisation that was established in August 2012 to offer a voluntary, third party certification system for quarries, recently issued its first certificate to Ontario-based Acton Quarry, which is operated by Dufferin Aggregates, a CRH Canada Group business.
In order to attain certification, Acton Quarry was audited and monitored to evaluate how closely it conformed to the requirements of CSC’s Responsible Aggregate Standard.
The standard was released in January 2015 and is currently in the process of undergoing a two-year pilot period to determine how it can be further improved.
It currently comprises several key principles: compliance with laws; community notification, consultation and participation; respect for Aboriginal peoples’ rights and culture; benefits to host communities and employees; site stewardship and impacts to environment, water, agriculture and human health; resource efficiency and conservation; and point of origin.
It was said that these requirements were negotiated between aggregate operators, environmental organisations and community representatives to create an outline of what responsible aggregate extraction would look like in Ontario.
Improving Buyer confidence
In achieving certification, stone, sand and gravel from Acton Quarry will now carry the CSC label.
“[For] the first time ever, buyers will be able to purchase aggregate materials knowing they come from an operation that protects the environment, engages openly with the community and operates following industry best practices,” a CSC statement read. “For aggregate operators, CSC’s certification promises a less contentious licensing process and a new way to earn community support.”
Commenting on the milestone, CRH president and CEO Baudouin Nizet said, “CRH Canada and Dufferin Aggregates are extremely proud that our Acton Quarry has been officially recognised as the world’s first certified responsible aggregate site, and hope that this achievement will be a catalyst for the industry.
“This certification is a testament to our commitment to address the demand for aggregates that consider community and environmental needs. Now any purchaser of aggregates, be it the public or the private sector, will have the confidence in knowing that they are buying responsibly sourced building materials.”
Rick Bonnette, the mayor of Halton Hills, Acton Quarry’s local region, said the certification also spoke to the relationship the operation had with its community.
“By following CSC’s standards and working proactively to address environmental and social impacts, the Acton Quarry has been able to incorporate sustainability principles into its ongoing operations and after use,” he said. “This has been a key component of the recent approval for expansion of the quarry.”
While the Australian quarrying industry does not have a similar certification system, it recognises quarries and individuals that go over and above to achieve environmental excellence and innovation through awards such as the Institute of Quarrying Australia’s (IQA) Volvo/CJD-sponsored Environment Award and Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia’s (CCAA) Environment, Health and Safety Awards. The IQA also runs a Professional Development Program unit in environmental management.