Nova Scotia's brief return to the paving business has officially ended with the sale of the controversial provincially-owned mobile asphalt plant to a Newfoundland company for $2.4 million.

The plant — which was bought by the previous New Democratic government three years ago for $3.6 million — has been sold to Westside Asphalt and Concrete Inc., the government announced Monday.

The mobile asphalt plant was used for only two full summers.

"As promised to Nova Scotians, we have taken government out of the paving business and returned the work to the private sector," Geoff MacLellan, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, said in a statement.

"We'll now focus on strengthening the road building environment with earlier tendering to ensure that we get the best return on our investments for Nova Scotians."

The mobile asphalt plant, chip seal equipment and asphalt paving equipment were originally purchased in 2011 for $6.1 million.

The province said it made $1.6 million from the earlier sale of the two latter pieces of equipment.

"We'll now focus on strengthening the road building environment with earlier tendering to ensure that we get the best return on our investments for Nova Scotians," Grant Feltmate, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association, said in a statement.

The plant went into operation in August 2012 after the NDP government said it wanted to address unfair pricing and a lack of competition for project tenders in some rural areas.

Road builders roundly criticized the move as unfair competition, but bureaucrats said taxpayers were better off due to earlier tenders calls and better planning for paving projects.

There were numerous delays due to missing parts and assembly time and the Liberal government announced it was scrapping the program soon after it was elected last year.