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Molokai Rocks

A look at the island’s quarries

By Emily Sumners and Catherine Cluett

Rock mining isn’t one of Molokai’s more well-known industries, but it nonetheless plays an important role on the island. Molokai rock is used to pave all the island’s roads, form the cement for its buildings and sidewalks, provides gravel to repair its dirt roads and stones for its rock walls.

General contracting company Goodfellow Brothers operates one of the two currently active commercial quarry operations on Molokai. Located between Maui Electric’s Pala`au power plant and the Molokai-Naiwa Landfill, the quarry has been in operation since 1973, according to Goodfellow’s Todd Svetin.

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Goodfellows Quarry, photo courtesy Goodfellow Brothers

The company was recently granted an extension by the Molokai Planning Commission to their special use permit that allows them to operate the quarry. A special use permit is required because the 15-acre operation is located in an agriculture district. The permit extension spans the next 20 years, allowing Goodfellows to operate the quarry through 2033.

“I’ve never had a single complaint about the Goodfellows operation on this site,” commission chair John Sprinzel said in approving the permit.

“We’ve only explored a portion of the quarry so far,” Svetin said, adding the rock supply is still plentiful. “So we’ll still be within the 15 acres in 20 years.”

Goodfellows Quarry

Goodfellows produces 10 different products, or gradations of rock, from their quarry, said Svetin. Those products are used in a variety of construction projects. The quarry area acts as the company’s  baseyard, where the harvesting of rock products only occurs periodically.

Currently the company has a stockpile of about 50,000 tons of various gradations of rock from the last time they harvested about 300,000 tons of rock in 2009, said Svetin. Using a technique of drilling and dynamite blasting, rock is loosed from within the 50-foot-high quarry walls and then processed. Processing requires a piece of equipment called a crusher, which Goodfellows must ship in from off-island when they need to refresh their stockpiles.

“We crush the rock that we anticipate needing for upcoming projects,” said Svetin.

Goodfellows has already depleted its supply of fine grade crushed rock. However, instead of bringing in the crusher, which is an expensive undertaking, the company is currently getting fine grade product from Tri-L Construction, which operates a quarry nearby and has a crusher onsite, said Svetin. Tri-L employees declined to comment on their quarry operations.

One upcoming Goodfellows project that will use Molokai rock products is the resurfacing of taxiways at the Ho`olehua Airport.

Rocky History

Molokai has a long history of mining rock. Quarry location depends on the quality of basalt contained there, according to local historian Arleone Dibben-Young. Dense rock, without air pockets, is considered desirable. A historic adze quarry in the Kaluakoi area was known for its high quality basalt, said Dibben-Young. Also in Kaluakoi, a sand quarry was mined in the 1960s and 70s, on the southern end of Papohaku Beach, much of which was shipped to Waikiki.

A large number of basalt boulders were also historically used off-island.

At the end of the 1980s, the Molokai Quarry in Kamalo was used as a source for sand and aggregate, but went out of business in 1998 because of permitting issues, according to Dibben-Young.

 

Molokai RocksA look at the island’s quarriesBy Emily Sumners and Catherine CluettRock mining isn’t one of Molokai’s more well-known industries, but it nonetheless plays an important role on the island. Molokai rock is used to pave all the island’s roads, form the cement for its buildings and sidewalks, provides gravel to repair its dirt roads and stones for its rock walls. General contracting company Goodfellow Brothers operates one of the two currently active commercial quarry operations on Molokai. Located between Maui Electric’s Pala`au power plant and the Molokai-Naiwa Landfill, the quarry has been in operation since 1973, according to Goodfellow’s Todd Svetin. The company was recently granted an extension by the Molokai Planning Commission to their special use permit that allows them to operate the quarry. A special use permit is required because the 15-acre operation is located in an agriculture district. The permit extension spans the next 20 years, allowing Goodfellows to operate the quarry through 2033. “I’ve never had a single complaint about the Goodfellows operation on this site,” commission chair John Sprinzel said in approving the permit. “We’ve only explored a portion of the quarry so far,” Svetin said, adding the rock supply is still plentiful. “So we’ll still be within the 15 acres in 20 years.”Goodfellows QuarryGoodfellows produces 10 different products, or gradations of rock, from their quarry, said Svetin. Those products are used in a variety of construction projects. The quarry area acts as the company’s  baseyard, where the harvesting of rock products only occurs periodically. Currently the company has a stockpile of about 50,000 tons of various gradations of rock from the last time they harvested about 300,000 tons of rock in 2009, said Svetin. Using a technique of drilling and dynamite blasting, rock is loosed from within the 50-foot-high quarry walls and then processed. Processing requires a piece of equipment called a crusher, which Goodfellows must ship in from off-island when they need to refresh their stockpiles.“We crush the rock that we anticipate needing for upcoming projects,” said Svetin. Goodfellows has already depleted its supply of fine grade crushed rock. However, instead of bringing in the crusher, which is an expensive undertaking, the company is currently getting fine grade product from Tri-L Construction, which operates a quarry nearby and has a crusher onsite, said Svetin. Tri-L employees declined to comment on their quarry operations. One upcoming Goodfellows project that will use Molokai rock products is the resurfacing of taxiways at the Ho`olehua Airport. Rocky HistoryMolokai has a long history of mining rock. Quarry location depends on the quality of basalt contained there, according to local historian Arleone Dibben-Young. Dense rock, without air pockets, is considered desirable. A historic adze quarry in the Kaluakoi area was known for its high quality basalt, said Dibben-Young. Also in Kaluakoi, a sand quarry was mined in the 1960s and 70s, on the southern end of Papohaku Beach, much of which was shipped to Waikiki. A large number of basalt boulders were also historically used off-island. At the end of the 1980s, the Molokai Quarry in Kamalo was used as a source for sand and aggregate, but went out of business in 1998 because of permitting issues, according to Dibben-Young.

 

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