The current development consent for Oberon Quarries’ site, which has been operating in Oberon, New South Wales since 1995, expires in May 2016. The application seeks to extend the operation’s life for an additional 30 years. The site is estimated to contain 12.7 million tonnes of high quality basalt and only 2.7 million tonnes has been extracted to date.
The application also seeks to upgrade the operation’s existing equipment, add a new cone crusher, extend the existing extraction area by one hectare and remove a clause that limits the operation’s production to an annual average of 200,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) over a ten-year period so that it may achieve the currently consented maximum production level of 400,000 tpa.
Oberon Quarries managing director Neil Hargraves told local newspaper Western Advocate that the application was timely as a resource shortage in Sydney had led demand to “hot up”.
“Penrith Lakes, which supplies at least 50 per cent of the Sydney market, is exhausted and companies are looking further afield for materials for infrastructure and building projects,” he said.
Strong case for continued operation
The project application noted that maintaining the extraction limit on Oberon Quarries would lead to increased price pressures on the supply of quarry products to the Sydney, Bathurst, Blue Mountains and other local hard rock markets.
The document also pointed out that refusal of the application would lead to not only the loss of an opportunity to utilise 10 million tonnes of high quality basalt but also of 25 jobs and associated local business. It was said the quarry spends approximately $1.5 million a year on fuel, with Hargraves telling Western Advocate, “We also spend a lot in the local area on tyres, repairs, engineering and hardware.”
Conversely, the extension of the project would lead to the creation of an additional 35 full-time positions at the quarry and Oberon Quarries would also reportedly build an asphalt plant if the application were to be approved.
Oberon Council mayor John McMahon recognised the economic benefits of allowing the quarry to continue operating, with Western Advocate quoting him as saying that it was “nothing but good” for the region.
“The quarry is creating a source of employment in the local area,” McMahon said. “The company made a substantial contribution to the upgrade of Titania Road to a haulage road and the levy they pay for road use is linked to the consumer price index. It’s a great resource for Oberon.”
The application is currently on public exhibition until 27 February.
Oberon Quarries supplies blue metal rock materials to Sydney and the Central Tablelands region of NSW for a variety of uses, including for roadworks, construction, concrete, cement and gravel.