Highland withdraws plans for big Canadian quarry

Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:25pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - A controversial plan to build a massive quarry north of Toronto that was backed by a major U.S. hedge fund has been dropped, according to a company statement on Wednesday.

The Highland Cos said it was withdrawing its application to develop a quarry in Melancthon Township, just north of Toronto.

Boston's Baupost Group, led by the value investor Seth Klarman, has an undisclosed stake in Highland and will continue to be an investor in the company, according to Highland spokeswoman Lindsay Broadhead.

Highland said it will stop work on building a train corridor in the area. The company also said its president, John Lowndes, has resigned and has no further involvement with the company.

Highland said that while it believed the quarry would have brought economic benefits to the area, "we acknowledge that the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process."

The quarry would have produced crushed limestone, a building material and ingredient in concrete. But the project faced strong opposition from the area's wealthy retirees and local farmers and from the environmental lobby.

The quarry would have extended below the water table, and its operators would have had to pump 600 million liters of water each day to keep the mine, and later rehabilitated farmland, from becoming a lake.

Highland, a major potato producer, said it will continue to focus on its farming operations.

(Reporting By Russ Blinch; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)