Environmental News

Licence breach costs quarry operator thousands

In July 2014, MA Roche Group, trading under the name Volcanic Resources, was fined $30,000 for selling more than 88,000 tonnes of material from its quarry near Wauchope on the north coast of New South Wales during 2012 – almost three times its permitted 30,000 tonne annual limit.

At the time, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) manager Adam Gilligan commented, “What the company should have done was to seek an approval from the EPA to increase its licence limit. I am pleased to say that the company is now in the final stages of completing this process, including the finalisation of an environmental impact assessment.”

Despite this, less than a year later, the business has again been fined for exceeding its annual limit, which remains unchanged at 30,000 tonnes. This time, the fine was $52,000 plus $9750 in additional costs for the sale of more than 62,000 tonnes of material during 2013.

Gary Davey, the director of EPA’s north branch, said it was “extremely disappointing” to see the MA Roche Group re-offend.

“The EPA puts licence conditions in place to protect the environment and the local community and to ensure a level playing field for businesses that do the right thing,” he said.

“Increased production at quarries can have implications for noise, dust and water management. Non-compliance with licence conditions not only increases the risks to the environment and local communities, but also puts businesses that comply with the rules at an unfair disadvantage.

“The company has deliberately disobeyed the law with the objective of making a financial gain for a second year running and this is unacceptable,” Davey added.

According to the EPA, MA Roche Group is again in the process of applying to increase its limit to 490,000 tonnes per annum and has completed an environmental impact statement for this purpose.

Volcanic Resources’ Wauchope quarry had been producing rhyolite as a minor operation since 1897 before being acquired by MA Roche Group in 1996. The operation has now expanded to produce 14 different products supplying the landscaping and civil construction industries across NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

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