City Of Kingston Approves Expansion Of Canada’s Only Wollastonite Mine
Organically certified mineral offers green opportunities in concrete and steel manufacturing, agribusiness, and environmental cleanup
July 15, 2019
It’s official: the City of Kingston is now home to Canada’s only wollastonite mine.
With no appeals to City Council’s unanimous June 18 rezoning approval, Kingston has given the go-ahead to Canadian Wollastonite owners Bob and Jeanine Vasily to expand their zero-waste, zero-tailings mining operation on to their land inside city boundaries.
The decision adds more than 20 million metric tonnes of wollastonite and other high-performance ores to Canadian Wollastonite’s existing mining reserves. Wollastonite is a calcium-silicate mineral with superior strength and durability properties that make it ideal for use in infrastructure projects such as roads and Kingston’s third crossing.
“The wollastonite minerals being mined are significantly stronger and more durable than anything else in our entire region, and indeed in all of Southern Ontario,” says Vasily. “There’s potential for the city to save millions on building projects while also reducing its carbon footprint because this resource is right in its backyard and not hundreds of kilometres away.”
Dubbed ‘a white mineral for a green world,’ wollastonite is an organically certified mineral with carbon-sequestering properties. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, emerging uses include low-CO2 alternative for steel and concrete manufacturing, as an important source of calcium and silicon in fertilizers and animal feeds. It also has been demonstrated to be effective at sequestering (removing) phosphorus and heavy metals from contaminated soils and water systems. Canadian Wollastonite has funded more than $1M to date in research at Canadian and U.S. universities, including half a dozen projects at Queen’s University.
“The close availability of Canadian Wollastonite to agricultural markets in Ontario and Quebec is an asset to reduce chemical use, improve yields and food security,” says Prof. Richard Belanger, Canada Research Chair in Plant Protection at Laval University. His group is working with the company to increase crop plants’ uptake of silicon and calcium to improve their stress tolerance.
“Calcium silicates found in wollastonite mimic Earth’s natural processes for sequestering carbon,” says Bill St. Arnaud, an engineering consultant who specializes in developing green technologies to address climate change. “Investing in green technologies is essential,” he says. “Kingston is fortunate to have such a large deposit of wollastonite within its borders, which could position the city to be a world leader in developing these industries and jobs.”
In reviewing the company’s request, the city cited the company’s sustainable mining practices, its environmental stewardship and its economic benefits to the region.
“Canadian Wollastanite’s continued growth and expansion is great news for this local company and for the region,” says Donna Gillespie, CEO of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO). “Kingston has long had a strong mining sector in research and technologies. With Canadian Wollastanite’s expansion we’re also home to leading mineral extraction which is used in plastics, paints, ceramics, concrete and agricultural products. Congratulations to Bob and Jeanine Vasily and their team.”
Bob Vasily, MBA
President, Canadian Wollastonite
About Canadian Wollastonite:
Canadian Wollastonite is Canada’s only wollastonite mine, located on 220 hectares of land straddling the north-east district of the City of Kingston and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands. The largest deposit in North America, Canadian Wollastonite’s mineral resource is stimulating new markets in green manufacturing, environmental remediation, agribusiness and commercial products. Canadian Wollastonite’s long-term goal is to produce economic, eco-friendly and multi-use mineral products while improving the local ecology.
- Less than 15 percent of the total 550-acre site is used for mineral extraction.
- First stage of mining in Leeds-Thousand Islands began 2013, with no adverse impacts.
- Surface mining operations only -- no large hole left behind.
- Six blasts lasting 10 seconds or less per year.
- More than 15,000 trees planted on site (one tree sequesters 1 tonne of CO2 over its lifespan) and 30 acres of wetlands created and enhanced for nesting birds.
- Mine operations are outsourced to a local contractor. Anticipated local economic impact of $500M over the life of the mine.
- Future use of the site includes carbon-offset and ecological projects, such as greenhouses.
- Owners live on-site. The closest home to active operations is more than half a kilometer away.
Researcher and industry feedback:
- “My colleagues and I are actively working with Canadian Wollastonite to evaluate the environmental impacts of their unique wollastonite resource… Fully developed at 10 million tonnes, Canadian Wollastonite's deposit has the potential to sequester over 3 million tonnes of CO2. This would positively counterbalance Ontario's CO2 emissions.”
- Yi Wai Chiang, Associate Professor of Engineering, University of Guelph
- “Canadian Wollastonite is very well located to serve the market for the large-scale investments in infrastructure (e.g. Metrolinx, CN & CP Rail, 400 Series) that need to be undertaken in the near future. This reserve is the southern-most approved source of Class 1 rail ballast and the only source of high-performance aggregate for 400 Series roadways in south eastern Ontario. Local sources of high-quality stone can reduce greenhouse gas emissions arising from long-haul transportation and lower the cost of maintaining public infrastructure, while spurring economic activity for many years.”
- Don Mackenzie, Chief Operating Officer, Muskoka Minerals and Mining, and Canadian Wollastonite customer.
- “ A high capacity for rapid phosphorus removal from wastewater was demonstrated in our study with the spent wollastonite potentially being used as an agricultural amendment… I can think of few mineral resources in our region of this much importance to the remediation and cleaning of our local and global environment.
- Tim Clark, Technology Leader, GreenCentre Canada, on the positive results of their study of wollastonite for wastewater treatment.