Hard rock quarry gets green light

The proposal by Hunter Quarries involves the development of the new Karuah East Quarry which would extract 1.5 million tonnes per annum of andesite for 20 years.

Hunter Quarries currently operates another andesite quarry at Karuah that was established in 2000 to extract up to 500,000 tonnes per year. However, the resource is expected to be depleted within the next five years, at which point the quarry will be closed.

“In its environmental assessment, [Hunter Quarries] stated that the current production limit at the existing Karuah Quarry prevents the company from tendering for, or entering into, larger supply contracts, which restricts its development opportunities,” a New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure project assessment report stated.

The andesite resource available at the new project site, located partially adjacent to the existing Karuah Quarry, is 29 million tonnes, and according to Hunter Quarries, the project “would be able to satisfy the future demand” for the Newcastle and Greater Hunter areas for which a “significant market demand for high quality construction aggregates” had been identified.

The project is also expected to offer socio-economic benefits for the region via the creation of 28 full-time on-site positions as well as up to 30 contract truck driver positions. The community could further benefit from the upgrade to the Blue Rock Lane and Andesite Road intersection that will prepare the road for increased quarry truck movements.

Biodiversity key to approval
While the project would involve the clearing of 28 hectares of native vegetation, Hunter Quarries plans to compensate this with 136 hectares of biodiversity offset area and intends to rehabilitate the site after the quarry closes.

The environmental impact of the project on a number of endangered plant species was initially a cause for concern but Hunter Quarries revised the project’s “infrastructure footprint” to substantially reduce this effect and the NSW Planning Assessment Commission determined in its final report that “the issue had been satisfactorily addressed”.

As a result, the PAC approved the project but stipulated that Hunter Quarries would be required to consult its local council, Great Lakes Council, when finalising its biodiversity offset strategy and the long term security of environmental offsets.

Sources: NSW Planning Assessment Commission, NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure

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