The expansion was proposed for Fish’s Quarry, a small gravel quarry that has been in operation since 1992 and which is owned by the Southern Midlands Council.
The 3ha site, located northwest of Oatlands, Tasmania, is one of a number of similar quarries located across the Southern Midlands region that supplies materials for the maintenance of local roads.
According to the application, the proposal to increase the quarry’s extraction rate and extend the lease area was part of the Southern Midlands Council’s efforts to reduce the number of quarries in operation.
“[The council] is in the process of rationalising quarry operations to surrender the less productive pits. The more valuable operations will have to increase production to meet the demand,” the application stated.
Fish’s Quarry had been identified as an important asset due to “the diversity of crushed stone products facilitated by the somewhat unusual geological setting”.
“Fish’s Quarry is unique in that a contact zone between intrusive igneous dolerite and sedimentary rocks is exposed, hence it is possible within the one site to extract hard ‘blue metal’ type rock along with fines and softer mudstones and clays,” the application explained.
It was said that this property allowed the materials to be blended in various proportions to make different products for a variety of uses, and that it also made logistics for planning construction works easier.
The quarry had been producing less than 5000m3 per annum of material but the recent environmental approval granted by Tasmania’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) meant that the council would now be able to extract and process up to 15,000m3 per annum.
Although EPA board chair Warren Jones said the board had decided the proposed expansion “could be developed and managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner”, he noted the approval came with certain conditions as well.
“The board has required that a thorough flora and fauna survey in nearby remnant eucalypt forest be completed and considered before some aspects of the expansion can proceed,” he said.
The EPA also stipulated a number of conditions relating to drilling and blasting management, particularly with regards to noise and ground vibration.
The application indicated that initial blasting of the new extraction area was not expected to begin until June 2019. It also showed the expansion would include an upgrade of the site’s existing sediment retention facilities.