Rock to Road

Global aggregates and all that

February 26, 2009  By  Andy Bateman

February 26, 2009 – Canada exports
millions of tonnes of aggregates each year, mainly to the United States, from water based quarries on both
coasts as well as the Great Lakes.
Against this
background, consider recent events in Vancouver

a B.C. based quarry company is disappointed by the City
of Vancouver’s decision
to use basalt (a volcanic rock) from a Chinese
supplier for part of the renovation of Granville Street. According to a report
by CTV British Columbia’s Jina You, a Chinese firm’s bid
undercut the
million plus bid of Bedrock Granite Sales by 40%. Bedrock’s owner is
understandably upset that, despite regulatory compliance, local companies
cannot compete against low Chinese labour costs and may have to lay off more

Although on a
relatively small scale, this situation illustrates the dilemma of regional and
national governments where a global approach to material sourcing can collide
with the needs of domestic economies.

In this particular
case, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business seems to have a
sensible take on the situation. CFIB pointed out that choosing expensive stone
for sidewalks was a poor decision in the first place and that the city could
have utilised local and more cost effective paving solutions.


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