Aggregate production plant economic value and responsibilities

1. Economic value
Employment in urban and suburban areas is commonly defined by the workplace and transportation structures, which are comprised largely of aggregate. The natural capital embodied in aggregates is transformed into economic capital derived from the profits from the sale of aggregates. The physical economy grows at an estimated rate of 10 tonnes per capita per year. In other words, each year this amount of material, which consists mostly of aggregates and downstream products like asphalt and concrete, is being added to new buildings and infrastructures.

As aggregate flows throughout the economy, the ‘value added’ multiplies repeatedly. For example, each step of the process of extracting and processing aggregate, incorporating aggregates into concrete, and pouring and finishing concrete for a building, bridge, and so forth, adds to the economy through sales and salaries.

2. Economic responsibilities
There are four main economic responsibilities embodied in SARM:
1.providing aggregates to meet the material requirements of society;
2.maintaining a viable business environment;
3.encouraging value-added production and employment;
4.employing full cost accounting while remaining competitive.

The first three of these are the responsibility of government; the fourth is the responsibility
of the firm. Meeting the material needs of society involves ensuring that sufficient aggregate resources are available to the marketplace. This requires the identification and protection of sufficient reserves and resources, provision of land access, creation or maintenance of production capacity, and development and maintenance of infrastructure (transportation and energy networks). All these issues are interconnected and need to be balanced by policy makers and resource managers. Unfortunately, the identification and protection of aggregate resources is generally not well understood or integrated into the planning framework.

Aggregate businesses need to remain competitive to stay in business. Maintaining a viable business environment requires a stable and feasible permitting regime; consistent application of rules and regulations; functioning capital markets; reasonable levels of taxation; and well-defined property rights. Development of value-added manufacturing (such as ready-mix operations, asphalt plants, pre-stressed concrete panels, and concrete pipe and block manufacturing) is an important economic aspect of SARM. The presence of a value-added sector can reduce the need for imported materials while allowing the local economy to capture the economic benefits (profits, employment, tax revenues) that would otherwise accrue in another region.
Aggregate businesses have a responsibility to accept the full cost of operation, including costs of prevention or remediation of environmental damage. When all the costs are taken into consideration, some quarries will not be viable economic enterprises. However, firms can increase competitiveness by following best management practices, maintaining a well-trained workforce, modifying production processes, and upgrading product quality. Product quality can be an important market element that can be labeled and traded.

Societal value and responsibilities

-Societal value
The infrastructure necessary to build and maintain the social systems of developing or developed countries cannot be created or sustained without aggregate. Paramount among the components of the infrastructure system is transportation. Simply put, the workforce and material necessary to maintain a healthy economy and social system cannot reach the market without an efficient transportation system. The regional importance of the aggregate industry as a source of employment can be substantial. Each quarry job may result in the creation of four or five other jobs including subcontractors for various parts of the quarry operations, transportation, equipment manufacture and repair, and downstream users of aggregates such as the concrete ready-mix and asphalt operations.

-Societal responsibility
The aggregate industry exposes workers to potential hazards, and reduction of operational risk is an essential part of aggregate extraction and processing. Occupational health and safety issues are commonly addressed through training programs, monitoring, health screenings, and by following best management practices. Identifying the values, interests, and goals of stakeholders is a necessary step to resolve the complex social issues of SARM. For example, the benefits of aggregate development are dispersed over very large areas, but the community where extraction occurs suffers most of the adverse consequences of resource development. SARM depends on fairness to those living near or impacted by quarrying while considering the regional benefits from aggregate extraction.

-Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integral part of SARM. Companies that practice CSR commonly define themselves as being: accountable to stakeholders; responsible for social, environmental, and financial performance; accountable everywhere they do business; and open to external codes of conduct. Such companies demonstrate their commitment to CSR by instituting standards and goals at all levels of the organization. CSR can increase long-term business viability, including growth and profits, and sends a signal to stakeholders that the company is a responsible corporate citizen, which can help companies acquire the ‘social license’ to mine.