Industry event to hone in on environmental issues

The inaugural Environmental Management Seminar, which will take place in Brisbane on 8 September this year, is a joint initiative of Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia (CCAA), the Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) and the Queensland Government.

The three organisations have also partnered to deliver the annual Quarrying Safety and Health Seminar for the past 13 years, and CCAA’s state director for Queensland Aaron Johnstone said the new event would take on a similar format, allowing industry and the state environmental regulator to discuss and collaborate on environmental best practice in a conducive setting.

“The idea for the seminar came from a strong wish by the industry and the state government to keep improving environmental management and innovation in our sector, and to foster good relations between the state environmental regulator and industry operators,” Johnstone explained.

“There was also a strong desire for environmental management innovations to be spread right across the industry, with a particular focus for staff ‘on the ground’, such as quarry managers, plant operators and supervisors.”

Responding to new challenges

Johnstone said that while well-known issues such as dust, noise, vegetation, water management and rehabilitation continued to be key concerns, the breadth of environmental management challenges for the quarrying industry had grown.

“There are challenges in how to engage and inspire a wider cross-section of the industry to step up on environmental management,” he said.

“Another key challenge for the industry is to educate and remind others in the community that quarrying is a professional industry that manages its environmental obligations very seriously, and that quarrying can successfully co-exist with other land uses and habitats.

“The community has increased expectations about environmental matters across all industry sectors, and our industry needs to respond accordingly.”

Not just a ‘talk-fest’

The seminar program – which will include an address from Queensland’s new Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Dr Steven Miles as well as presentations from international experts – will include practical, industry-relevant sessions as well as discussions on bigger picture issues, such as sustainability.

“[Attending quarry operators will] learn about new innovations, be able to take ideas back to their site, and hear from experts and real people in the industry and how they’ve managed their own sites’ environmental issues,” Johnstone stated. “Quarry operators will also get a first-hand understanding about what the environmental regulator is focusing on over the next 12 to 18 months.”

Johnstone emphasised, however, that the event would not just be a “talk-fest”, noting that the program would also include interactive sessions, such as a hypothetical environmental situation that would encourage quarry operators to consider how they would respond.

He said the seminar would additionally provide the environmental regulator with an opportunity to network and gain a better understanding of the quarrying and construction materials industries, while also allowing the industry to “be on the front foot” with policy changes.

“The seminar is a unique event and will provide a terrific opportunity for quarry operators to share and promote good environmental management practices with their peers across the industry and government,” Johnstone said.

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