Readers will not be surprised to hear that most of Canada’s largest aggregate producers reported an overall drop in 2008 volumes compared to 2007, with a strong first half in most cases overpowered by a sharp fall off in the last quarter. In terms of total 2008 production, the Susan Lake sand and gravel operation of Athabasca Minerals was easily Canada’s biggest single aggregate producing location with 11.8 million tonnes. Unlike all the other producers in our Top 10 listing however, Susan Lake’s huge production number is the combined total of a number of separate portable production spreads, operated by different companies on the same property. (See page 10, “Giant operation meets demand”).
Located some 85 km north of Fort McMurray, Susan Lake’s numbers are certainly attention grabbing. Total sand and gravel sales of 11.83 million tonnes for the fiscal year ended November 30, 2008. Up to ten separate crushing spreads, four wash plants and two hot mix asphalt plants in production at the same time. Sales of 50,000 tonnes in a single twelve hour shift, of which 30,000 tonnes was shipped in 1,500 loads by 280 highway trucks and 20,000 tonnes was hauled directly to oil sands customers by 20 off road trucks carrying up to 350 tonnes in each load. Even higher individual peak numbers for both highway shipments and off road shipments on other days. Such is the scale of this operation that some of its monthly sales numbers exceed annual totals for many aggregate operations. Some 2.1 million tonnes were sold in September 2008, followed by 1.6 million tonnes in October and 1.9 million tonnes in November, for a three month total of 5.6 million tonnes.
The Melancthon EcoPower Centre is described as the country’s biggest wind installation to date, generating enough electricity to power some 70,000 average homes.
John MacLellan is operations superintendent for Rankin Construction Inc. and explains that the acquisition of a quarry in Port Colborne, Ont., in early 2007 marks the company’s first entry into the aggregate production business. Significant investment has been made to expand the quarry’s capacity and product range, including aggregates for the company’s hot mix asphalt plant in nearby Thorold.
Aggregates & Roadbuilding proudly announces Dufferin Construction Company as the Roadbuilder of the Year for 2008.
Located just 12 km northwest of downtown Calgary, the Springbank operations of BURNCO Rock Products Ltd. are an important part of the city’s construction materials supply with aggregates, ready mix concrete and hot mix asphalt all  produced there by company plants.
For aggregate users, low moisture content can be an important property of an aggregate operation’s sand and other fine sized products
Given the choice, most aggregate producers will avoid winter production with the weather’s unpredictable impact on production schedules and plant productivity. One portable crushing contractor battled the weather to successfully meet customer demand.
Focus on Crushers
Looking at this year’s Top 10 aggregate operations, the pattern established in recent years continues, with Canada’s three biggest operations all water based and in the same order as the previous year. 
Compact equipment size, a small operating footprint and low operating costs have facilitated a successful first year for a new entrant in the aggregate recycling market.
Fatalities overshadow 2007 in B.C. and industry responds; aggregate producers and suppliers remain generally optimistic for 2008, despite market turmoil.
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