On 20 December, 2013, the Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development and Trade Jeff Seeney signed off on applications by Barro Group and Boral to respectively expand Mt Cotton Quarry near Brisbane and to develop the Reedy Creek Quarry on the Gold Coast.
The decisions by the Queensland Deputy Premier and the Coordinator-General on the quarry applications effectively vetoed earlier decisions by the Redlands and Gold Coast City Councils which had turned down the applications.
The state director of the Queensland branch of Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia (CCAA) Aaron Johnstone said the quarry projects were critically important for Queenslanders.
?There is very strong demand for construction materials in the broader southeast Queensland region but without approval to develop resources in the ground we risk not being able to supply our needs,? Johnstone said. ?The nature of quarry materials, particularly the ?high bulk-low value? nature of aggregates, meant it was necessary to source them close to market, and from sites with specific geological characteristics.
?Transportation costs are a major component of the final cost of aggregates, and an increase in haulage distances ? say, by an average 40km ? can increase the cost per tonne by around 35 per cent,? he added. ?Such cost increases directly impact on the price the community pays for essential infrastructure and building materials. Transporting materials from further afield also brings with it added environmental costs, road safety risks and road wear and tear.?
Johnstone said the State Government?s development approval process had been rigorous, transparent and inclusive, providing the community with both the opportunity to raise concerns and seek assurances that the quarries met all necessary standards.
?The quarry industry as a whole is committed to working with the community to minimise the impact of its operations, and at the same time maximise the economic benefits in terms of jobs and other flow ons,? Johnstone said.
Local MPs oppose Reedy Creek
Acting Premier Jeff Seeney confirmed Gold Coast MPs, some within the government, had lobbied him to stop the Gold Coast?s Reedy Creek quarry going ahead but he backed its approval because it was needed.
In late December, the State Government Coordinator-General recommended approval of the quarry in Old Coach Road. However, it still needs to be signed off by the Federal Government environmental department.
A Boral spokeswoman said the company would lodge a formal application for the project with the Gold Coast City Council in 2014.
“I think the conditions the Coordinator-General has put in place do everything possible to address those (community) concerns,? Seeney said.
The Master Builders Association?s Gold Coast regional manager John Duncalfe said the quarry material was needed but a buffer zone was required between residents and the blasting. He said the quarry at Burleigh was near the end of its life.
Burleigh MP Michael Hart said he would continue to fight the quarry. Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates said the fight against the quarry was not over and she intended to lodge another submission to the Coordinator-General.
Protest group Stop the Gold Coast Quarry boss Sam Stewart declined to comment but had previously promised that a big campaign would be coming.
Barro welcomes news of Mt Cotton expansion
Residents and Redlands City Council fought to oppose the expansion of Barro?s Mt Cotton quarry but Acting Premier Jeff Seeney used his call-in powers to make the final decision.
Seeney said the quarry was integral for providing ?affordable housing, better roads and essential infrastructure”, despite environmental concerns that led the Redland City Council to reject the proposal.
Barro Group general manager Ian Ridoutt said there would be no delay in setting the plans in motion for the quarry’s expansion. “The work begins today and we will now begin liaison with Redland Council to make the project and its benefits a reality,” Ridoutt said.
“The community appears ready and primed for us to begin work. We are now receiving a steady flow of job applications from organisations, businesses and individuals keen for work.”
The quarry will be developed over four stages and supply about 45 million tonnes of quarry materials, the majority being supplied to the Redlands and Logan City.
Seeney said the Barro Group would be subject to rigorous conditions that would protect wildlife and manage noise and air quality. Conservationists have vowed to keep a vigilant watch over the activity of the Mt Cotton quarry.
Sources: Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia, The Gold Coast Bulletin, The Courier Mail