Lone Star land deal adds to limestone quarry

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Lone Star Industries, which produced almost 1.5 million tons of cement last year, has purchased 27 acres of property near its Cape Girardeau plant, a move that will increase the company's rock quarry by nearly a fourth and provide enough limestone for another 15 years of operation.

Plant manager Steve Leus said Lone Star bought the 27 acres on South Sprigg Street from Charles Hunze. Leus would not disclose financial terms, and Hunze could not be reached Wednesday.

The property is just west of the South Sprigg Street plant and adjacent to the quarry, Leus said. The additional acreage brings the quarry to a total 142 acres, a 23-percent increase.

"It gives us more reserves of limestone than what we have already," Leus said. "It gives us a little cushion. In making cement, you've got to have limestone, and it will enable us to continue our operations down the road."

Leus said the company will begin mining the property as soon as it gets a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources.

"We set a goal of being able to mine the new parcel, or part of it, by mid-year," he said.

If the consumption rate stays about the same, the additional mining area along with the existing 350-foot-deep quarry should provide enough limestone for more than 15 years, Leus said. That would change in the case of a future plant expansion, he said.

Mike Larsen is with the DNR Land Reclamation Program, which oversees mining permits like the one Lone Star is seeking. He said the department received Lone Star's permit application in January.

He said Lone Star submitted proper paperwork, maps and a bond -- money held in escrow -- to ensure the site is cleaned up after it's mined. Larsen said those are standard requirements for mining expansions.

Lone Star is currently in a public notification period. Newspaper advertisements have been running and certified letters to landowners have been sent out to let residents know of Lone Star's expansion. Also, Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones was notified as part of the requirement.

"Those are all things that Lone Star has done," Larsen said.

As of Wednesday, no comments had been received from the public, he said.

If there are no objections, Lone Star should have its permit within a week or two after the closing of the comment period -- 15 days after the last newspaper ad runs Saturday.

Written comments should be sent to: Director, Land Reclamation Program, Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO, 65102.

Larsen doesn't expect any problems with the permit process.

"We have seen this site a number of times over the decades," he said. "They have never received a notice of violation. They always get a clean bill of health."

Lone Star Industries Inc., which has its largest plant in Cape Girardeau, was purchased in 1999 by Dyckerhoff AG, a cement and building materials company with headquarters in Germany. The local plant employs 170 people and has an annual payroll of $8 million.


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