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Fri, Nov. 27

Forest Service seeks input on proposed pozzolan mining near Parks
Drake Cement proposes mining 300,000 to 500,000 tons of concrete additive over 20 years; comments accepted until Dec. 1

Public comments can now be submitted to the U.S. Forest Service for a proposed pozzolan mine that would be located nine miles north of Williams. (Photo/USFS)

Public comments can now be submitted to the U.S. Forest Service for a proposed pozzolan mine that would be located nine miles north of Williams. (Photo/USFS)

PARKS, Ariz. — Forest officials are encouraging the public to provide input on a proposed mining operation northeast of Williams.

Drake Cement, LLC has submitted a proposal to mine pozzolan, a cement additive, over the next 20 years at a location between Williams and Parks, according to Kaibab National Forest.

The company has submitted a Mining and Reclamation Plan of Operations to the Forest Service for analysis. The plan proposes to mine approximately 300,000 to 500,000 tons of pozzolan annually over the course of 20 years. The claims are located nine miles northeast of Williams at an existing quarry commonly known as “Frenchy Pit” or “Williams Quarry.”

The road is accessed by taking the Interstate 40 Deer Farm exit and proceeding 4.5 miles north past the Kaibab National Forest helibase station on Forest Road 74.

Pozzolan is a natural material that can be added to cement to strengthen and increase the density of concrete. It is an alternative to fly ash, a product of burning coal for power generation. With recent decreases in coal-fired power plants, the availability of fly ash is diminishing. Most of the material in the proposed pit area would be removed and sold as high quality natural pozzolan.

“Drake Cement anticipates that approximately 95 percent of the material will be sold and about five percent will be left as waste,” the company said in the proposal. “Thus, very little material would be left as fill to backfill the pit.”

The company said the initial mining operations would include removal and chipping of vegetation, and stripping and placement of a growth medium adjacent to the stockpile prior to crushing the material and loading it on to trucks for transport.

Drake Cement said the operation will not include any blasting.

“The pozzolan deposits are anticipated to break down into appropriate sizing on their own while being handled,” they said. “However, one or more power screens and crusher-screen-stackers would also be used to process the pozzolan down to a 2-inch minus size.”

Dust control measures will be employed to minimize fugitive dust from operations and the company plans to obtain a general permit with ADEQ, they said.

“Emissions of fugitive dust from disturbed surfaces would be minimized by utilizing appropriate control measures including surface application of water to roadways and process areas, speed limits for operating equipment and using covered trucks,” Drake Cement said.

The company plans to follow requirements under the Arizona Pollution Discharge Elimination System and does not expect any hazardous waste to be generated by the project.

The mine would be operated using standard open-pit mining methods within a 65-acre project area that was specifically designed to exclude known archaeological sites and minimize potential impacts to cultural resources. An estimated 12 trucks per day would haul material from the site five days per week, eight hours per day via Forest/County Road 74 to I- 40.

The project area will house a 14-foot x 60-foot office building, two 24-foot x 24-foot storage buildings, two portable toilets, a fuel tank, a 12,000 gallon water tank and a 12-space parking lot.

Kaibab National Forest is preparing an Environmental Assessment to analyze potential effects of the proposed activity.

“Public input is a crucial component of this effort, as it will help ensure a thorough analysis and, subsequently, a well-informed decision,” the forest said in a statement.

The overall environmental review process will include multiple opportunities for interested parties to engage and provide comments, the forest said.

The first of these opportunities, the public scoping period, will close Dec. 1.

Additional information about the project and instructions for submitting comments by mail can be found on at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/Kaibab/DrakePozzolan. Comments must be submitted in writing by Dec. 1.

Anyone can also email comments to: comments-southwestern-kaibab@usda.gov

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