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Producer proposes to turn paddock into sand mine

A Western Australian quarry operator has applied to transform agricultural land into a sand mine to supply the onset of construction projects within the City of Busselton.

The proponent, Margaret River Natural Resources (MRNR), has submitted an application to extract 200,000 tonnes of sand and gravel over an area of 20ha in Gibb Road, Kaloorup, 250km south of Perth.

It is anticipated up to 30,000 tonnes of sand, with a small amount of gravel, will be produced annually at an average depth of 1.5 metres. This will equate to approximately six laden truck movements per day.

MRNR is said to be a well-regarded local sand resource supplier that has operated in the Busselton local government area for 10 years. It has supplied sand to the local markets and provided coarse sands for sorting into various water filtration and other purposes.

In its proposal, the proponent highlighted that the property – currently used for grazing purposes – lies within a local area of existing quarries that have extracted sand and gravel – with much of these resources now being depleted.

“The City of Busselton and nearby areas are undergoing significant development, much of which is located on low lying land that requires fill and consequently requires sand for construction and fill,” it was stated in MRNR’s excavation and rehabilitation management plan.

“The sand is a valuable resource for the community as it is highly suitable for fill and other construction materials. The local area is a known sand resource in which active sand pits occur.”

The City of Busselton council was set to vote on the application last week, with city officers recommending it be approved subject to MRNR meeting more than 40 conditions.

This is despite a petition with more than 70 signatures opposing further extraction in the area being tabled with the council on 17 January.

In a report to councillors, council officers cited the supply of basic raw materials (BRM) as an important factor in recommending the quarry approval.

“It is inevitable that BRM supply will become ever more constrained in the future,” the report said. “That will, and is already, leading to the construction and development industries finding ways to undertake development using less BRM.

“The scarce and finite nature of BRM supplies is also already influencing the pattern of development across the city and elsewhere, with land where less fill is required being

developed ahead of areas that may be more centrally located, but where the amount, and therefore the cost, of fill is greater.

“BRM extraction will, however, continue for at least the foreseeable future, as construction, of both buildings and especially infrastructure, will continue to require BRM.”


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