As previously reported in Quarry, the Lismore City Council deferred a decision on whether or not to allow up to five blasts per annum at McDonalds Quarry, located in Ruthven, New South Wales, last month.
The councillors were not satisfied that the region’s koala population would not be negatively affected by the quarry’s proposed blasting activities.
However, after requesting and receiving further information on the matter, the council recently gave the quarry the green light to introduce the new extraction method, subject to conditions. Among these was a requirement for the quarry operator to prepare a koala management plan.
The council’s consent stated that prior to commencing blasting, the quarry operator would be required to collect baseline information on the distribution, abundance and health of the local koala population. The quarry operator would then be required to monitor these factors on an ongoing basis once blasting had commenced.
In addition, it was stated the operator would need to conduct a detailed assessment of a subset of the koala population, which entailed the observation of the immediate behavioural response of at least three koalas to a typical blast.
McDonalds Quarry has been in operation since the early 1990s. It was granted consent in May 1996 to increase production from its initial 6000m3 per annum allowance to a maximum 14,700m3 per annum. At the time of approval, the quarry was estimated to have 73 years’ worth of reserves.
The quarry operator lodged the blasting application earlier this year, citing a desire to access hard rock that had been discovered at shallower depths than initially anticipated in the original application.