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Design and

Land Use Plan &






Tourism is a major industry on Cape Breton Island, with the Cabot Trail establishing itself as an icon for tourism in Nova Scotia. Although Sydney is a major destination for tourists due to the high inventory of hotel rooms, there are relatively few tourist attractions in the region.

Many communities in CBRM (Dominion, New Waterford, and Glace Bay) have tourism exhibits that highlight the regions connection to coal mining. The most well known of these is the Miners Museum in Glace Bay. Based on conversations with staff from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture, there is interest in identifying and preserving a number of artifacts from SYSCO so that they could be incorporated into a steel making interpretive centre at a later date.

The Joint Action Group (JAG) has also been discussing the possibility of building a Tar Ponds interpretive centre. This would be similar to other waste management facilities built elsewhere in North America which have developed into viable tourism attractions.

One possibility would be to develop a combined interpretive centre (steel making and Tar Ponds cleanup) in the CN old railway station on Intercolonial Street. The second floor of this building would be an excellent location to observe the Tar Ponds, while the main floor could be renovated as an interpretive centre. Additional space could be renovated and made available as offices for engineering firms involved in the clean-up.

There has also been some discussion in the recently completed revitalization plan for Downtown Sydney that old rails and metal artifacts could be incorporated into modern art work that is used to signify key entrance points into downtown. This should be kept in mind as surplus steel is scrapped.



Slag Reclamation


Since its opening, there has been a range of slag products dumped on the SYSCO property, including blast furnace slag, open hearth furnace slag, and electric arc furnace slag. Blast furnace slag is the most commercially viable of these slag products.

Blast furnace slag has a number of potential uses. The majority of all slag sold by Heckett Multiserve in the Cape Breton market is used for engineered fill in construction projects (i.e., as a substitute for aggregate). Blast furnace slag can also be added to concrete block during the manufacturing process. This adds strength to the concrete, makes it lighter, and depending on the price, can reduce the cost of manufacturing.

According to Shaw Brick in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, they would like to use slag in the manufacturing of concrete block, however the cost of transportation to their existing manufacturing facilities in Elmsdale and/or Fredericton is too high, and makes the addition of slag non-viable from a financial perspective. There are no other concrete block manufacturers in the Cape Breton area that could use this slag. Without a local manufacturer, the only viable options for the slag are to export it off site, either locally for filling and construction, or by ship for re-sale in other markets.

According to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour, the United States consumes 19 million tones of slag per year. With the recent down-turn in the steel industry, the production of slag has come to a virtual standstill, with constant demand this could improve the market for imported slag.

Heckett Multiserve estimates that there are 20 million tones of slag on the SYSCO property (EDM has made an independent estimate that is similar). Roughly 25% of this is non marketable slag. The process of mining slag for export includes excavation, crushing and screening, and conveyoring into a ship. The existing Heckett crusher is the limiting factor in determining how much slag can be produced each year (400,000 tones). This capacity could be doubled by adding a second crusher ($350,000) and by adding additional shifts.

According to Heckett, excavating 500,000 to 1.5 million tones per year is possible if more equipment is allocated to the job (this would require 10 to 30 years to remove the 15 million tones at SYSCO). Emera indicates their coal pier could also be used to export slag, however this would require a stockpiling yard of roughly 20 acres adjacent to this property.

Heckett is currently paying the Province a mineral royalty of $1.25 per ton (i.e. 25% x gross revenue of $5 per ton for the Cape Breton market). Heckett has been in negotiations with an aggregate broker in New England who indicates that the State of New York Department of Transportation might be interested in purchasing 500,000 to 1.5 million tons of slag per year. This is contingent upon slag being certified as an acceptable aggregate in New York (this approval is supposedly forthcoming in early 2002), and on the ability to deliver this slag to the wharf in New York for $7 to $9 US per ton. Canadian Steamship Lines indicates the cost of transporting slag to New York from Sydney at $4 to $5 US per ton. The contract would be for a five year term, starting with 500,000 tons per year, and increasing as the market grows. It would have renewal options for two more five year periods.

Although there is no clearly defined market/contract for the SYSCO slag, the potential revenue from this commodity could be the most valuable asset on the property. The province should investigate further the potential for selling this commodity for export.

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