Here is some good news for environmental activists and for some farmers in the Melancthon Township, 120 km north of Toronto. The Highland Companies has withdrawn their application for building a 2,316 acre limestone mega-quarry in the area. The application was filed back in March 2011. Good news for farmers, but bad for the $26 billion hedge fund, Baupost Group. Seth Klarman has a controlling stake in Highland Companies. The project, had it materialized, would have given Baupost control over the second largest limestone mine in North America, with deposits worth billion of dollars.
The press release today stated, “While we believe that the quarry would have brought significant economic benefit to Melancthon Township and served Ontario’s well-documented need for aggregate, we acknowledge that the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process,” said John Scherer of The Highland Companies.
Highland has no plans about changing the mega quarry proposal and is content with farming potatoes on the said land. The ownership of Melancthon land has made Highland the second largest potato producer in Ontario.
The release also reported that John Lowndes, President of Highland Companies, had resigned. Highland is also discontinuing the rebuilding of a rail corridor through Dufferin County. The rails would have transported a superior type of limestone, which is a component in the production of concrete and asphalt.
The abandonment of the Melancthon quarry project is one of the rare representations of successful activism from the community. The resistance to the mega quarry project included efforts from farmers, chefs, aboriginals, environmentalists, and cabinet members.