Executive Briefings

Why Builders of Big L.A. Projects Are Making Concrete With Gravel and Sand Shipped From Canada

The 519 miles of L.A.'s freeway system. Dodger Stadium. City Hall. All built with concrete filled with rock and sand washed down from Southern California's iconic mountain ranges.

For evidence of that mineral abundance, look no further than Irwindale, home to more than a dozen massive pits emptied last century for those critical building components.

But now, as another building boom rumbles across Los Angeles and a new generation of high-rises climbs skyward, the rock and sand are coming from a much more distant source: Canada’s Vancouver Island, more than 1,400 miles away.

That’s a long distance to ship commodities that are still abundant locally, sell for less than $20 a ton — and often cost more to transport than to mine.

Yet thanks to a combination of materials science, cheap ocean shipping and, some argue, NIMBYism, today’s industrial concrete mixers are often filled with imported rock and sand.

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For evidence of that mineral abundance, look no further than Irwindale, home to more than a dozen massive pits emptied last century for those critical building components.

But now, as another building boom rumbles across Los Angeles and a new generation of high-rises climbs skyward, the rock and sand are coming from a much more distant source: Canada’s Vancouver Island, more than 1,400 miles away.

That’s a long distance to ship commodities that are still abundant locally, sell for less than $20 a ton — and often cost more to transport than to mine.

Yet thanks to a combination of materials science, cheap ocean shipping and, some argue, NIMBYism, today’s industrial concrete mixers are often filled with imported rock and sand.

Read Full Article