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NZ politicians pressured to focus on quarry planning

 

Past IQA President Wayne Scott has highlighted how construction delays and skyrocketing costs in New Zealand reflect the country’s neglect toward long-term quarry planning. 

In an opinion piece for stuff, Scott, who is now the chief executive officer of NZ’s Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA), explains that the Transmission Gully project, near Wellington, on the North Island, is set to come in significantly over budget. The project is building 27km of highway, requiring 750,000 tonnes of construction aggregates.

According to Scott, who serves in a dual role as the CEO of MinEx, the health and safety organisation for NZ’s mining and extractive industries, the $NZD1 billion ($AUD920 million) project lacks necessary planning for the sourcing of aggregates.

“The project was started under the last government without the necessary planning, and not much has changed under the current administration,” Scott says . “Both failed to get the message that you cannot build anything unless you have sufficient supplies of locally sourced quarry materials.

“As a result, taxpayers ended up paying to cart material from as far north as Huntly and across Cook Strait. Quarry materials are cheap as chips – perhaps $20-$25 per tonne at the gate; the big cost comes in transporting it.”

He says only one more quarry has been brought into product for the project, which has a lack of locally sourced materials.

Scott predicts Transmission Gully’s opening year will now be pushed back to 2022.

“Little wonder Transmission Gully is now a $1 billion-plus project (up from $850m) and its forecast opening this year may now stretch into 2022,” he says.

Disappointing response

The AQA sent a briefing document to Members of the NZ Parliament in June, outlining the lack of local aggregate supply for major infrastructure projects such as Transmission Gully.

“New Zealand’s urban spread and development projects are already constrained by restricted availability of suitable local aggregate and earth materials for construction,” the document stated. “It is therefore more vital than ever that local aggregate resources throughout the country are identified, protected and effectively managed.”

Scott says that in the lead-up to the NZ national election later this year, there has been a disappointing response to the document from most of the political parties. Yet NZ politicians have continued to make bold promises about infrastructure without considering where the construction materials would be sourced.

“The most positive response came from Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw,” he writes. “He at least may appreciate the carbon savings that planning for local quarries would deliver.”

Wayne Scott is the chief executive officer of NZ’s Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA).

Australian experience

Scott, who spent nearly a decade as a mines inspector for the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, has previously told Quarry that New Zealand should draw on the Australian experience to implement better quarry planning.

“Key resource strategies adopted by many state governments in Australia are an excellent example of how authorities can protect quarry resources for the future,” Scott said when he was appointed the AQA’s CEO in September 2018. He added the Victorian Government Joint Ministerial Statement on Extractive Resources, launched in mid-2018, “was in direct response to a realisation that quarry resources need to be protected and planning processes flexible to ensure availability of resources for infrastructure, housing and other development.

“New Zealand could benefit from the learnings of the success of these strategies adopted in Australia.”

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