The Municipal District of Foothills is estimated to have 79 million m3 of sand and gravel resources zoned for aggregate extraction. At modestly increasing consumption rates these reserves will be exhausted in fifteen years. As reserves are depleted the cost of transport for each tonne of resource will triple as haul distance increases from about 14 km to over 40 km. This scenario is inevitable unless additional resources are identified and conserved and producing pits developed.
The Alberta Geological Survey, in collaboration with the municipality, identified 446 deposits containing at least 317,780,000 m3 of sand and gravel in 2003 during the update of a sand and gravel inventory of the Municipal District of Foothills. Depletion of nearby resources could be delayed and haul costs reduced by developing some of these deposits for aggregate.
The low unit price of sand and gravel (~$5.79 per tonne) and common applications (roads, bridges, foundations) often conceal the fact that sand and gravel is a major mineral resource and aggregate an essential commodity. For example, the current, in-ground value of sand and gravel identified during the preliminary sand and gravel inventory could be in excess of $5 billion. This would equate to a community aggregate payment to the Municipal District of Foothills of $217 million (at $0.25 per tonne). If all deposits were developed the transportation costs to haul aggregate to market areas could be minimized to about $2 billion and the life of sand and gravel resources in the municipality extended beyond 2050.
The Municipal District of Foothills can control aggregate production and transportation costs, limit environmental and safety hazards associated with sand and gravel development and determine aggregate resource revenue by maintaining the sand and gravel inventory that was updated in 2003 and devising a sand and gravel development strategy.
Edwards, W.A.D. and Budney, H.D. (2006): The occurrence, production and projected consumption of sand and gravel in the Municipal District of Foothills; Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, EUB/AGS Information Series 135, 24 p.