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Calcium carbonate mining

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Calcium Carbonate Mining in Vermont

A few small towns in Vermont have been invaded by an international mining company. The company is after the state’s rich mineral resources and they have enjoyed an unhindered opportunity to seize those resources. The payoff is potentially huge for the company, but so are the costs to the community. However, by working within the free market economy, the state, the mining company, and the neighborhoods and towns affected can successfully account for the true costs of the industry and reap the true value of the resource.



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The process SBM uses to mine the calcium carbonate in Vermont is typical of most mining operations: it involves an environmentally intensive procedure. First, marble is quarried in Middlebury and South Wallingford. SBM then loads the material into forty-ton trucks and hauls the raw ore down the back roads of Vermont to its Florence plant, where it is “processed.” The processing involves more than merely crushing the marble into dust. After a coarse grinding of the rock, mineral impurities are floated out of the slurry using a chemical flotation agent known as tall oil. The wash water and impurities are pumped outside the plant and into a series of unlined settling cells and former quarries. The settled solids are dredged and deposited in old quarries and in stockpiles on site. Another use of chemicals at the plant includes the addition of biocides to the finished slurry product. The plant produces various grades of dry powder, wet slurry, and treated products.[ Lauren Aldrich et. al., It’s Not Just Dirt: Permitting the Storage of SBM, Inc. Mine Waste in Florence, VT (Middlebury College service learning project for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar) 2003 at 3.] From the mining of the raw material to the production of the final product the process is complex and environmentally involved.