Minimizing impacts to the land, the water, the air and improving biodiversity is vitally important to Vulcan. We take a holistic approach to land management because mining is only an interim use of the land. The presence on a site of wetlands, waters, endangered species, cultural resources, and proximity to property boundaries and neighbors are all factors that are considered during site development. Making thoughtful decisions during site development helps to minimize these potential impacts. Our environmental specialists, land managers, geologists, engineers, hydrologists and external affairs personnel work together with key outside parties to incorporate state-of-the-art environmental controls while mining infrastructure materials. Future uses of the property following mining are considered during site development and operation. The planned future use of the property will affect the reclamation process and can dictate specific requirements beyond what is required by state mining reclamation regulations.
In 2020, we continued essential partnerships with environmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the U.S. and Mexico that strengthen our position as a sustainable business. Examples include our 30-year partnership with the Cahaba River Society, which works to restore and protect the longest free-flowing river in Alabama and is the primary drinking water source for one-fifth of the state’s population.
Vulcan also maintained our Cajon Creek and Colton Dunes Conservation Banks in California, which we set up to provide permanent protection of natural areas and habitats. We are also currently working with the Sierra Foothill Conservancy to establish the Fenston Mitigation Bank in Madera County, California, which will provide thousands of acres of mitigation for impacts to the habitats of several endangered species in the San Joaquin Valley. Our Sac-Tun operation near Playa del Carmen, Mexico is implementing a long-term environmental vision and strategy that has been praised by local government authorities and NGOs as a model for other businesses and industries in Mexico.READ MORE
Our goal is to protect, preserve and restore the land and complex ecosystems in which we work and live.
Our land stewardship encompasses a wide range of actions, including:
- Conducting extensive stakeholder outreach and dialogue prior to and during site development to address technical, logistical, community or other concerns that arise during the permitting process.
- Engaging in careful planning concerning site layout and location.
- Undertaking studies to understand the issues that development and operation of the site may create and to establish baseline conditions, highlighting biodiversity and natural resource considerations.
- Partnering with NGOs for large-scale enhancement of local biodiversity and surrounding ecosystems, as with our multi-stakeholder partnership in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to protect marine, animal and plant species.
- Continuing to promote environmental stewardship with our people through ongoing training, education, and NGO engagement.
- Protecting on-site biodiversity, including threatened or endangered species, through engagement of regulatory bodies and external experts to confirm habitat and species presence and to assist in development of plans to protect the species and obtaining authorization for any impacts. Comprehensive conservation and mitigation plans are developed where needed, which include mitigation measures. In 2020, we controlled more than 6,300 acres in mitigation banks and conservation easements.
- Managing 37 certified wildlife habitat sites encompassing nearly 12,000 acres at key locations.
- Protecting the ecosystem from invasive plant species and enhancing wildlife habitat.
- Keeping the focus on land, biodiversity and resources management well beyond the permitting process into the day-to-day operations.
- Identifying, protecting and preserving cultural and historic resources.
Our stakeholder engagement process focuses on establishing and maintaining communications with a wide array of parties who may have an interest or stake in our projects and activities in some manner. Parties with whom Vulcan engages and information on the types of engagement are provided in our Stakeholder Engagement Process Table.
Successful site development and mine planning, with a focus on protecting the environment and addressing the needs of our stakeholders, enhances our ability to obtain and maintain environmental permits and mining authorizations that keep us operating, growing and continuing to supply vital infrastructure materials for society.
Creating Value, Protecting Biodiversity, Building a Sustainable Future
As the leading producer of construction aggregates in the United States, we are focused on managing our company to provide long-term sustainable value to our shareholders, employees, customers and communities. We are the largest holder of aggregate reserves in the United States, and we recognize the responsibility that comes with a land portfolio of more than 240,000 acres with 15.9 billion tons of proven and probable aggregates’ reserves (for further information regarding Vulcan’s reserves, see pp. 25-26 of our 2020 Annual Report Form 10-K).
The future value of our company and our ongoing good relationships with our stakeholders require us to be thoughtful stewards and managers of our land. This means taking a holistic approach to our land management, including selecting the most strategic sites, continuing to improve our land management practices, conducting operations as efficiently as possible, minimizing environmental and community impacts, and eventually reclaiming land for its next highest and best use.
Proven siting and permitting track record
We believe that our success in opening new sites is a direct result of our commitment to do the right things in the communities where we operate, and to demonstrate that we are good neighbors and corporate citizens over many years and in many ways. Over the last 15-year period, we have been successful in securing every mining permit we have sought for opening new sites across the United States. In just the last six years, we have secured local, state and federal government approvals to open new sites in California, Texas, South Carolina, and Alabama. We have also earned approvals to expand or modify dozens of existing sites. These achievements reflect reputational strength built over time, living up to our philosophy of “doing well by doing good”.
Our approach to siting and permitting is built on listening, partnering and being responsive to the community and our potential new neighbors. Our strategy includes:
- Educating and engaging local stakeholders to build long-term partnerships.
- Addressing potential or perceived concerns regarding water, noise, dust, traffic, blasting, health, safety and environmental protection.
- Incorporating community feedback into our site designs and operational plans. We create setbacks and buffer areas, screening, landscaping and berms, and employ technologies and systems that protect public health, safety, and the environment.
Our facilities are designed and operated to protect the health and safety of our employees, and by extension, the health and safety of our neighbors, customers, suppliers and business tenants. Our regulatory and permit approval track record along with our long-term and ongoing strategic acquisitions have given us the best position in growing markets of any aggregates company in the United States.
Being a responsible steward of the land is a core value for our company and is vital to maintaining biodiversity. As an aggregates company, we are presented with unique opportunities to preserve and develop wildlife habitats. The large footprint of an aggregate production operation includes undeveloped areas of the mine property, which can provide a sustainable habitat for wildlife in areas where habitat may otherwise be limited.
Many of our existing properties are home to federally or state-listed endangered and threatened species. The ongoing protection and preservation of site biodiversity requires thoughtful decision-making and diligence throughout each phase of our land management.
We perform biological assessments at Vulcan sites to ascertain the presence of critical biological resources that may be present, including threatened and endangered species and habitat. The presence of jurisdictional waters, wetlands, protected streams and other environmentally sensitive areas are identified and documented as they provide support for a broad range of biodiversity resources. The boundaries of these areas are established and protective measures are put in place to prevent disturbance of the resources. Where impacts cannot be avoided, Vulcan ensures that the proper permits and authorizations are obtained and that measures are undertaken to ensure that any adverse impacts are limited to those authorized and that restoration, mitigation, and remedial measures are implemented.
Long-term operational excellence
Our focus on land, biodiversity and resource management continues through the day-to-day operations at the site. Detailed compliance resources are prepared to assist operations staff to meet or exceed compliance with all permit and regulatory requirements. This support includes:
- Mine planning resources to establish site mapping with property boundaries, approved mining areas, setbacks, easements, and locations of wetlands and endangered species habitats.
- Permit compliance resources such as Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) and mining and reclamation plans.
- Education and training on various environmental topics and the importance of compliance.
- Field controls to prevent inadvertent disturbance of areas requiring protection.
- A three-tiered audit and inspection process that engages plant, area headquarters and corporate staff.
The reclamation process is site specific and the cost is covered by bonding and other financial assurance mechanisms. Requirements vary, including how much reclamation is done concurrently with mining. Our Land Management department in conjunction with the Corporate Geology and Mine Planning departments provides direction and guidance to the regional divisions of the company and its operations on reclamation requirements and post-mining land use.