Highway provides impetus for quarry expansion

After exhausting the resource approved under the previous consent, which was granted in 1997, the owners of the sand quarry located in Doonbah, New South Wales applied to extend the site’s life and expand the operation. The site’s quarrying history dates 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 in order 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.

The project’s environmental impact statement (EIS) noted that the north coast region of NSW had experienced “steady growth” over the last few decades, resulting in increased demand for the provision of new dwellings, commercial and tourist development, and infrastructure, as well as the upgrade of existing roads.

“[This growth] is expected to continue into the future,” the EIS continued. “By providing a local source of sand, the proposal will help to reduce the costs of development in the area whilst minimising environmental impacts.”

It was also noted that the quarry was ideally positioned to supply sand and topsoil for the work proposed between Woolgoolga and Ballina as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade, as it is based only 5km away.

“The proposal would provide a valuable resource to the upgrade of the Pacific Highway which is shown to significantly reduce travel times, crashes and fatalities,” the EIS stated, adding that the quarry would also supply local councils and contractors.

The assessment report prepared by the local council, Richmond Valley Council, agreed with the EIS’s assertion, stating, “The Doonbah quarry is identified as a locally significant resource and the increased extraction is primarily required to meet anticipated demand associated with the Pacific Highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina.”

The council recommended approval of the project, with a number of conditions and a maximum quarry operation period of 25 years – recommendations that the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel adopted at the end of August.

Complementary products

According to Alan Robertson, director of consultancy Ausrocks, which worked closely with the quarry owners to prepare the expansion project application, Doonbah quarry is capable of supplying a diverse range of value-added products.

These include NSW Roads and Maritime Services compliant concrete sand (which has been utilised in the Sapphire to Woolgoolga section of the Pacific Motorway), golf course top dressing, bowling green top dressing and bunker sand.

Robertson added that the operation used a sand dredge and a wash plant, noting that use of this equipment lowered the cost of extraction while limiting the quarry’s environmental impact.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend