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A once active sand quarry (boundary outlined in red) in Cambridge, New Zealand is back on the market as the rest of the country debates the merits of more quarrying.
A once active sand quarry (boundary outlined in red) in Cambridge, New Zealand is back on the market as the rest of the country debates the merits of more quarrying.

Looming gravel shortage may crush future projects

Concerns of an impending aggregates shortage in New Zealand are throwing uncertainty on the viability of several projects.

A recent report by TVNZ News and re-published on the National Health and Safety Council for the NZ Mining and Quarry Sector (MinEx) website has noted large projects were ‘chewing’ through the country’s aggregates supplies and driving up prices.

It is estimated New Zealand utilises approximately 45 million tonnes of aggregate per year.

Following earthquakes in recent years, the amount of gravel local councils use has doubled yet the restrictions on what can be extracted have increased.

In the report, Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA) member Anton Clark elaborated further: “We're typically guilty in New Zealand of over harvesting, so now you're seeing councils and regulatory authorities controlling the extraction rate from rivers in certain areas,” he said.

The AQA has also calculated that there are further costs incurred for every extra kilometre aggregates have to travel – which are subsequently passed onto consumers – and it is crucial that they are sourced as close as possible to where they are needed.

“Every time you go beyond 30km, the price of material doubles,” Clark told TVNZ.

Rocky 12 months

The NZ industry has come under fire in the past 12 months following unfounded concerns about the possible presence of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) in some quarries in the Canterbury region.

MinEx CEO Wayne Scott, a past president of the IQA, previously told Quarry he expected further monitoring by Environment Canterbury would confirm by the middle of this year that there are no serious health risks.

Off the back of the RCS fears, residents in Templeton, west of Christchurch, have vehemently opposed a proposal by Fulton Hogan to open a 170ha site near their town.

Templeton Residents Association chairman Gary Kilday acknowledged that while new quarrying is essential to maintain infrastructure, it would be residents who in the long run would ‘pay the price’.

“I understand and accept that we need quarries,” Kilday told TVNZ, “but the only reason they’re putting it there is that it will save them money.

“There’s a truck coming in or out every 20 seconds and these trucks are huge. When they’re empty and go over a bump, they sound like an earthquake coming!”

Sand quarry for sale

In other NZ news, a century-old sand quarry in the North Island town of Cambridge has been placed on the market.

Real estate company Bayleys Cambridge is handling the sale of the former quarry pit, which is currently owned by the Waipa District Council.

Approximately 1.6ha, the area comprises of three individual land titles, with prospective buyers having the opportunity to purchase one or more sites in any combination, Bayleys Cambridge salesperson Kelly Grice was quoted as saying in a NZ Herald report.

Understood to have once been one of the largest sand quarries in the region, materials were extracted from the pit between 1900 and 1940 to build roads and pavements throughout the surrounding area.

Grice was contacted for information on whether the site had received any offers; however, a response had not been received at time of publication.

More information on the property can be found here.

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More reading
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Saturday, 21 July, 2018 08:13am
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