This month, North East Materials Group won an Act 250 permit after six years of legal conflict. The permit allows us to continue crushing rock on property owned by Rock of Ages.
With the permit, we can now focus wholly on our mission of providing needed materials and providing a living to local Vermonters. So who are we? And why does Vermont need companies like ours?
Who We Are: A Materials Recycler
NE Materials is Vermont-based company with a team of 10 Vermonters. Our company crushes materials on land owned by Rock of Ages, a granite mine famous for creating gorgeous mausoleums and headstones. We crush scrapped granite into products for public infrastructure projects like levees and seawalls.
One of the trademarks of Barre is that the hills are covered in discarded blocks of granite. In the 20th century, when a piece of granite broke during extraction, the blocks were discarded. These blocks became the large grout piles you see all over Barre today.
Even as technology has advanced, granite still breaks during extraction, and the broken pieces are still discarded. The idea that led to the creation of NE Materials was to take discarded blocks and, rather than laying them to waste on the hillsides, to break them down into materials for roads, bridges, gardens, seawalls, and more.
Why Vermont Needs Companies Like Ours
North East Materials, and companies like it, are incredibly vital to Vermont and the East Coast. The Atlantic coastline is slowly deteriorating and being overtaken by sea rise and the elements. Research indicates that the entire East Coast is prone to flooding.
Infrastructure in Vermont and along the East Coast is also a problem. According to the 2014 Vermont Infrastructure Report Card, 40% of the roads managed by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTRANS) were rated poor or very poor in 2013. Thirty percent of Vermont’s bridges are deficient, compared to twenty-four percent nationwide. Of Vermont’s dams, 198 are classified as having a high or significant hazard potential.
Without materials like those that NE Materials provides, these problems could not be fixed.
NE Materials is one of the few companies on the East Coast that can provide flawless, single pieces of stone up to 40 tons each to help slow the deterioration of the coastline. The size of the pieces means that breakwaters and sea walls will last longer.
We’ve provided materials to rebuild roads locally, build a levee in Florida, and repair damage caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011. This year, we’re supplying materials to a build a levee on Lake Ontario in New York, where over 1 million tons of cargo move through the Port of Oswego every year.
Even though transportation costs made our product more expensive than other suppliers’, our granite rock was chosen because it was the only product that met the project’s strength and durability requirements. This same granite is used to build acid holding tanks and buildings.
Reconnecting Americans to American Materials
Americans are reconnecting with the materials that fuel their lives, whether that means buying produce from local farms or paying local artists for homespun crafts. This “American made” movement should also encompass products like mined materials.
Paved roads, building foundations, gravel hiking trails—all of these things require crushed rock like the kind that NE Materials produces. Rather than outsourcing the need for mined materials to other countries, Americans and Vermonters have the opportunity to support Americans making American-made products. With American-made products, we know exactly where the products come from and how they’re produced. We can better ensure that workers are safe and that environmental standards are followed. We can save time and money buying locally rather than importing from overseas.
Let’s celebrate what Graniteville is and has been for nearly 125 years: a mining town named for a special resource that can help rebuild Vermont and the United States.