The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) granted a tentative approval to a proposed conveyor belt transportation system that would move limestone from a New Windsor quarry to the Lehigh Cement Co. plant in Union Bridge, according to the Carroll County Times.

As part of the draft permit, Lehigh is expected to meet state and federal air quality requirements: the conveyor system will emit less than 22.09 tons of total particulate matter per year at maximum production; Lehigh will emit no more than 7.42 tpy of fine particulate matter, and no more than a net total of 10.81 tons of particulate matter that is 10 micrometers in diameter or less; Lehigh will comply with the state’s limit for respirable crystalline silica emissions; and the company will meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level concentration of particulate matter, officials said.

Lehigh applied for the permit to construct the 4.5-mile conveyor belt system in February. A permit is required for the project since Lehigh will build new air pollution emitting equipment, such as stone crushers and transfer towers.

The company has been looking to mine the New Windsor quarry for six years, said Kurt Deery, an environmental engineer with Lehigh. The project is necessary as the limestone supply at the Union Bridge quarry adjacent to the plant will diminish over the next decade.

Lehigh hopes to have all the permits necessary to construct the conveyor belt system by April 2014.

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