Industry News

The ?reignited fire? in Victoria?s belly

Welcome back to Melbourne! I say “back” as it seems like we were here yesterday for CMIC12. CMIC16 marks the tenth anniversary of the biennial IQA/Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia conference that originated in Melbourne in October 2006. Indeed, the conference has come full circle, returning to Melbourne for the third time. The Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, which ably hosted CMIC12, is the venue for CMIC16.

In my corresponding editorial for CMIC12, I wrote how the abundance and close proximity of Victoria’s quarry reserves meant that quarries were not as distant from Melbourne and other regional centres – compared to other states where transportation expenses are high.

Nevertheless, the regulatory processes for opening and reviving quarries had become more scrupulous and due to the limiting of new extractive operations, some organisations – Boral, Delta Group, Alex Fraser Group – had successfully, with encouragement from the likes of VicRoads and the Department of

Sustainability, embarked upon recycled aggregates initiatives to sustain the state’s extractive resources.

It is timely that as CMIC16 begins, the Victorian Government has reviewed the state’s construction materials reserves. Extractive Resources in Victoria, Demand and Supply Study 2015 – 2050 was commissioned by Minerals Development Victoria. It has forecasted the demand and supply of extractive resources by resource type and local government area (LGA) to 2050.

The report established that 485 quarries across Victoria produce 46 million tonnes of extractive materials annually and that production is valued at $676 million per year. Significantly, it also compared the location of current and future quarry sites with their proximity to Victoria’s high growth corridors and centres. It identified that of Victoria’s 79 LGAs, 15 would be key growth areas (Knox, Cardinia, Mitchell, Greater Geelong, South Gippsland) and five would have the greatest demand for construction materials (Melbourne, Hume, Casey, Wyndham, Whittlesea).

At the report’s launch, Victorian Resources Minister Wade Noonan remarked that Victoria’s demand for quarry resources will double by 2050; therefore, it was essential the state had a “roadmap” of the whereabouts and quantities of raw materials. This will enable the state to extract raw materials within the vicinity of construction sites to lower transportation, building, infrastructure and housing costs. Minimising travel distances will also protect local area amenities, reduce traffic congestion and lessen wear and tear on roads.

Of course, the “roadmap” needs implementation but there are encouraging signs for Victoria – in spite of the East-West Link debacle. According to ABS construction data for the second quarter of 2016, the state has enjoyed a housing boom for the last eight consecutive quarters. This is a reversal on 2012 when Victoria was accused of being a laggard and losing the “fire” in its belly.

Clearly, the Baillieu/Napthine Government’s investment in construction activity from 2012 onwards to offset closures in Victoria’s manufacturing base, and continued by the Andrews Government, has paid off. The Melbourne Metro rail and Murray Basin freight rail networks and the public/private Western

Distributor partnership are in the preparation stages. The privatisation of the Port of Melbourne for $9.7 billion will enable the Victorian Government to complete its level crossing program and spend up to almost another $2 billion on additional infrastructure projects.

Victoria’s challenge now is to maintain this newfound momentum for the long run and (in the spirit of CMIC16) be more innovative and efficient in infrastructure delivery and in the utilisation of the state’s aggregate reserves – thereby creating boom conditions for the Victorian (and Australian) construction materials industry.

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