The boom in public infrastructure projects, particularly on the east coast, and continuing strong demand for high rise residential buildings, have driven a record production year for the concrete, cement and aggregates industries.
The sector has experienced steady growth in the past few years. In the report commissioned from the industry research and forecasting company Macromonitor, the 2017 results eclipsed the 27 million cubic metres produced in 2015 and the 28.5 million cubic metres in 2016.
“In essence, all of that material is provided from Australian quarries,” said Ken Slattery, chief executive of the CCAA. “There’s no significant imports of quarrying materials here in Australia.”
More than 30,000 people are employed directly by the industry, with another 80,000 estimated to be employed in work related to the industry, according to the CCAA.
“About 12,000 to 13,000 people are directly employed in quarrying and you can extend that out at a similar sort of ratio of 4:1 to get the indirect figure,” Slattery said.
The industry contributes over $15 billion to the national economy every year.
“The boom in infrastructure projects, such as WestConnex and NorthConnex in Sydney and the West Gate Tunnel in Melbourne, is good news for the heavy construction materials industry and for the more than 110,000 Australians who are employed directly or indirectly in the sector,” said Slattery.
Steady growth, supply
Future growth is projected on the back of planned projects, again driven by government-funded infrastructure projects on the eastern seaboard.
A recent report by consulting firm Deloitte concluded that infrastructure projects worth at least $324 billion were in the pipeline, an increase of almost $50 billion over the past two years.
Slattery said the building of the new Western Sydney Airport at Badgery’s Creek alone was expected to further lift demand for concrete and related products by at least another one per cent over the next five years.
The Melbourne Metro Rail Project, which is currently under construction, would also result in demand for concrete increasing by another two per cent, he added.
Slattery expects that Australian quarries will be able to continuing meeting demand. “That’s the big issue around all of this. Sydney and Melbourne have some particular challenges around how long it can take quarries to get approval.
“We’re not anticipating any shortages, provided governments’ approval processes are responsive to keeping up with demand,” he said.
The Victorian Government released a supply and demand study in 2016 that considered the state’s challenges to 2050. The Victorian Earth Resources Regulator has also subsequently launched a streamlined regulatory process for the management of basic operational changes, sparing producers the time and paperwork of having to prepare work plan variations. As of October, the regulator had received 16 requests under the new, fast-tracked process.
New South Wales has also engaged in recent studies considering the availability of resources for the burgeoning Sydney market. Infrastructure NSW commissioned a study from BIS Oxford Economics which recommended construction materials strategies for developing new sources of supply and the simplification of approval processes for quarries.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has also collaborated with consultants RW Corkery and Ecoroc on a study examining the supply constraints across NSW and projections about the quantities and quality of aggregate that will be required up to 2036.
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