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Quarry seeks to increase output for major rail project

A quarry in north-east New South Wales wants to temporarily increase its production by 40 per cent to supply the largest project within the $9.3 billion Inland Rail program.

Mackellar Excavations and Gunnedah Quarry Products, which operate the Marys Mount Quarry near Gunnedah, has applied to modify its development consent to allow for the extraction of an additional 151,000 tonnes per year.

If approved by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel, the quarry, which is a source of high quality basalt rock for the region, would be permitted to change its extraction rate from its already approved 360,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) to 511,000 tpa.

According to a Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) report, prepared by Outline Planning Consultants, the primary reason for the planning change is to supply material for the Narromine to Narrabri (N2N) project, which is one of 13 within the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)’s Inland Rail program.

The operators are also seeking to change the mix of truck traffic by using larger quarry haulage vehicles than currently set down in the consent. This would support an increase in quarry production without a rise in overall quarry truck movements.

“Importantly, the proposed increase in the approved annual extraction rate will be a temporary measure only, in order to service a major regional infrastructure project,” the SEE said.

“Production at the quarry will then revert back to a maximum of 360,000 [tpa] and back to the mix of quarry trucks currently permitted once the ARTC – N2N Inland Rail project is completed.”

If given the green light, the quarry footprint would remain the same and there would be no changes to quarrying methods, employment, quarry staging, number of blasts or operating hours. It also will not alter the nature of noise-generating activities such as the crushing of rock or blasting.

The modification application will be on exhibition until 27 January.

Australia’s largest freight rail project

Marys Mount Quarry has a history of providing material for the coal mining industry and is a hard rock source for subdivisions, road building and rail projects.

Its previous work with the ARTC includes supplying plant, equipment and construction aggregates for the reconstruction of the railway bridge at Boggabri after a coal train derailment, a rail shutdown at Narrabri and remediation works at various locations.

The 300km Narromine to Narrabri rail installation is the largest component of the 1700km Inland Rail network.

The new track is designed to reduce transit times and complete one of the missing freight rail links between Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.

Inland Rail is the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia and considered one of the world’s most significant infrastructure projects.

The Australian Government awarded ARTC, a statutory corporation body, the contract to deliver Inland Rail, in partnership with the private sector, and has committed $9.3 billion to the delivery of Inland Rail.

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