Doonbah Quarry owner Rixa Quarries No. 2 Pty Ltd was fined $350,000, after the court ruled that from March to October 2013 the operator had extracted and processed more than 30,000 tonnes of sand for sale without an environment protection licence.
It accepted the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) argument that Rixa Quarries had shown a “blatant disregard for environment licensing laws” and that numerous ‘failures’ by the company’s directors Joseph and Louise Cauchi implied that the company was likely to reoffend.
In a statement, the EPA stated that it does not treat such infractions lightly and that the court’s decision should serve as a “warning to all operators” that they must comply with their licensing requirements.
The NSW chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford said the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 required premises conducting extractive activities to hold an environment protection licence.
“Licences are important tools that help ensure environmental regulation for industries that have the potential to impact on the health of the community and environment,” Gifford said.
As previously reported by Quarry, an application was submitted to extend the site’s life and bolster its operation in preparation for a proposed major highway upgrade in late 2015.
With the site’s quarrying history dating back to 1961, the expansion project application proposed to increase extraction from the approved rate of 57,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) to 490,000 tpa to take advantage of the estimated four million tonnes of resource available.
In addition, the quarry footprint would expand from 6ha to 18ha and the extraction depth would increase from approximately 4m to 15m.
In 2016, Rixa Quarries was granted approval to expand the footprint of another of its three operations on the north coast – the Corindi Quarry, near the Pacific Highway – from 3.5ha to 4.8ha and to increase its extraction rate to 490,000 tpa. As part of the initial development application, Rixa Quarries would also have been required to apply for an environment protection licence.
Quarry’s request for comment from Rixa Quarries’ representatives was not answered by time of publication.
CLARIFICATION – 23 AUGUST 2017
It may have been inferred from this story on 21 August that Rixa Quarries was responsible for the 2015 application to expand Doonbah Quarry's footprint and extraction rate from the approved 57,000 tpa to 490,000 tpa.
In fact, the 2015 application was from the owner of the site, Evans Head Sand Pty Ltd, whose directors are C&J Uebergang and M Donaldson.
Rixa Quarries previously managed extractive activities at Doonbah Quarry under licence from Evans Head Sand and was the operator at the time of the 2013 offence. Rixa Quarries is no longer responsible for extractive operations at Doonbah Quarry. The current operator is Quarry Solutions.
Highway provides impetus for quarry expansion