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Mining company plans to increase Coquitlam pit by 50%

Lehigh Hanson wants to release another 13.6 million tonnes of rock from a forested Coquitlam site near Gilley's Quarry.

A company extracting rock from a quarry in northeast Coquitlam wants to expand its mining operations.

Heidelberg Materials recently submitted its bid to the B.C. government to widen its site next to the Pitt River — north of Minnekhada Regional Park.

According to its permit application, which is in the review stage and can be seen in full at the Poirier branch of the Coquitlam Public Library (575 Poirier St.), Lehigh Hanson of the Heidelberg Cement Group states the 23.5-ha. Gilley’s Quarry will soon be exhausted.

It wants to release another 13.6 million tonnes of rock from a forested 11.5-ha. site to the southwest of the current pit — an increase of nearly 50 per cent to its boundary area.

Lehigh states the original mining grant issued 40 years ago "had set out a permitted mining boundary" that's "still not completely disturbed and recovered."

As well, the company wants to boost its permitted annual tonnage of rock from one million to 1.5 million.

And Lehigh is seeking to add more settling ponds to its site to wash the excavated rock before it’s taken away by barge, or truck via Quarry Road; about 10 per cent of its haul is by vehicle, the company states in its submission.

On Monday (March 25), Burke Mountain resident Renato Spano will appear at Coquitlam city hall to voice concern to council-in-committee about the expansion proposal and environmental impacts.

Requests for comment from Heidelberg Materials and mine manager Robert Sims were not immediately returned.

In operation since 1982 on private and Crown land, Gilley's Quarry includes blasting, crushing, screening and stockpiling granodiorite hard rock to make drain rock, rip rap and road base aggregates.

Lehigh Hanson's Notice of Work submission to B.C.'s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation states that the existing pit will be exhausted in 2024 and, as of January 2021, there was 2.89 million tonnes left.

Its report also states that Lehigh Hanson has worked with kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation on the quarry development and contracted KFN-recommended archaeological consultants.

However, "to date, no cultural heritage sites have been identified."