LEWIS — Residents and environmental watchdogs had NYCO officials and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) reps up against the ropes during a public hearing July 2 designed to discuss NYCO’s plans to expand mining operations at their facility in Lewis.
The public consensus appeared clear: An adjudicatory hearing is needed, residents and environmental groups argued, to measure quality of life issues, an increase in truck traffic and the environmental impact.
NYCO dispatched engineer Lindsay Stevens to make the pitch for the facility’s plan to expand one of the three blast quarries in the United States that harvests wollastonite, a limestone-derived mineral known for its durability and strength.
Stevens said the permit application would allow expansion of three mining zones; the increase of weekday mining operations by an hour on each end of the day and a bump in truck traffic from the mine on Seventy and Oak Hill Roads to the Graymount Quarry on Route 9 and the processing plant in Willsboro.
The end is near for the current mining area, she said. NYCO estimates the remaining 500,000 tons of wollastonite ore will be depleted within the next two years. An additional 600,000 tons of reserves are left in a section south of the current mine in the area where NYCO wants to expand.
According to NYCO, added excavation zones would extend the Seventy Road operation for another three years.
NYCO hopes to increase the permitted excavation limit at the Seventy Road facility by 15 acres to a total 69 acres. They aim to increase what they refer to an “affected area” at the Seventy Road facility from 89.9 acres to 132.4.
The project, Stevens said, would result in an permanent impact to about an acre of wetlands at the Seventy Road facility and construction of a wetland mitigation area approximately 2.2 acres in size at the Oak Hill facility.