An innovative way to reuse an old resource

Most of you have heard of ‘brownfield’ developments – taking an old industrial site and converting it to a new use – thus retaining the site’s ability to provide economic benefits to the community.

So what are we going to do with the old Heath Steele mine up between Miramichi and Bathurst?

Here’s an idea.

Technology giants Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are planning to build massive data storage centers amid the sagebrush and farm fields of rural central Washington.

The draw appears to be the region’s relatively cheap land, inexpensive hydropower and wide-open space, and although neither agreement has been finalized, local officials are hopeful that Grant County will become more than the nation’s leading supplier of spuds.

“This could be a real boon to Quincy and to Grant County,” said Curt Morris, Port of Quincy board president. “It’s bringing renewed optimism to the people of the town, especially the business owners. We’re interested to see where it takes us.”

The developments come as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s America Online, as part of efforts to compete for customer loyalty, are boosting e-mail, video and other services that require lots of storage space.

“Data centers like this are what contains the family jewels,” analyst Rob Enderle said. “They’re looking for low-cost real estate and stable sites in terms of weather and geographic activity. It means they’ve done some work and determined it’s one of the least-expensive, safest places they can build.”

Now, I have to admit limited knowledge about Health Steele but you have to admit it’s an interesting concept. Global data centres buried in that mine serviced by dozens of high paying technicians that would live in either Bathurst or Miramichi.

Crazy, you say?


The mine is in place. It is secure. It is even air conditioned I am told. There hasn’t been a significant earthquake in New Brunswick for ever.

So why would Google, Microsoft, AOL, et. ca. want to have to create infrastructure from scratch in the farmers’ fields in rural Washington state?

Probably because our guys never actually asked them to consider New Brunswick.

Time to pick up the telephone, Bernard.