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Quarry makes bid to expand more than 150 per cent

Only months after being given the green light to expand, a quarry operator has applied to increase production by an additional 167 per cent in response to strong demand.

Gunlake Quarries, which operates a hard rock quarry near Marulan, New South Wales, proposes to increase its production rate from 750,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) to two million tpa.

The quarry operator is also seeking approval to extend its quarry pit footprint by 150 per cent to approximately 63ha, step up its blasting frequency from once a fortnight to twice a week, conduct primary crushing 24 hours a day and to increase its truck movements.

Gunlake Quarries’ latest application comes after an earlier bid to increase its extraction rate from the originally consented 500,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) to 750,000 tpa, a proposal that gained state government approval in April this year.

The current application was lodged in June, the same month that the NSW Government announced a record $16.5 billion investment towards developing the state’s public transport and road network. Some of the major infrastructure projects that were allocated funding included the Sydney Metro Northwest rail system, the Light Rail, the WestConnex motorway and the Pacific Highway upgrade.

More aggregate needed

Gunlake Quarries’ preliminary environmental assessment (PEA) explained that the quarry expansion was necessary to meet Sydney’s increasing demand for construction materials, including quarried aggregate.

“The provision of housing and infrastructure in NSW will require an increase in the supply of heavy construction materials such as concrete and its constituents,” it read. “Sydney currently uses almost 20 million tonnes of quarried aggregates every year. Historically, most of this aggregate has been extracted relatively close to Sydney. As these reserves are depleted, aggregate will have to be sourced further afield from quarries such as those at Marulan.”

The PEA also indicated that only 900,000 tonnes of the 180 million tonnes of identified hard rock resource at the quarry site had been extracted so far. “There is sufficient resource for quarrying to continue at two million tpa for 90 years,” it stated.

It was said the quarry expansion additionally offered a number of economic benefits, including jobs, monetary contributions for all three levels of government and expenditure in the local region.

“A range of non-quantifiable economic benefits arise from the supply of competitively priced quarry products to ongoing growth in Sydney and the local area,” the PEA added.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment issued Gunlake Quarries with the Secretary’s
environmental assessment requirements for the preparation of an environmental impact statement last month.

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