The new operation was proposed by Austral Bricks to replace the on-site quarry at its Bowral Brick Plant, which is expected to be exhausted within five years.
The clay and shale quarry would extract approximately 120,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of shale, weathered shale, brick clay and sandstone from a 51ha site near New Berrima, New South Wales for a period of 30 years, with a maximum extraction limit of 150,000 tpa.
Austral gained approval for the quarry in July 2012, with the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure acknowledging that in addition to enabling the ongoing supply of dry-pressed bricks throughout NSW, the project would attract $1 million in capital investment in the region, create up to five part-time jobs, and secure employment for the Bowral Brick Plant’s 38 existing full-time staff. However, despite being granted permission to proceed, the company to date has not yet commenced construction at the site.
In April this year, Austral applied to shift the project’s approved extraction area. The environmental assessment report supporting the modification explained that the company had undertaken further drilling in 2014, which showed that the geological data used in the initial project application had been “inaccurate/incomplete”.
The original extraction site covered an area of 7.7ha and was estimated to contain 3.6 million tonnes of Ashfield shale, but the 2014 drilling program identified a superior resource northeast of the approved section. The new extraction area spanned 11.7ha, had an estimated 3.9 million tonnes of shale and contained less overburden.
Given no construction activity had occurred on-site, Austral applied to commence consent from 30 June, 2015 to 30 June, 2045. The environmental assessment report additionally noted that the company intended to re-apply for further project approval near the end of this 30-year term in order to exploit the total eight million tonnes of clay and shale that had been identified on the project site.
The application for the New Berrima quarry extraction area modification is on public exhibition until 29 May, 2015. For more information, visit the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure website.