As Victoria temporarily endures another lockdown, the longevity of the quarry industry is assured, with $35.7 million allocated in the Victorian Budget for 2021-22.
As part of a $22.5 billion infrastructure pipeline over the next four years, the Budget will ensure Australia’s fastest growing state can maintain its lofty demands for growth.
More than 63 million tonnes of aggregate were delivered to Victoria’s infrastructure last financial year, according to Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA), Australia’s peak body for the heavy construction materials industry and a member of the Extractive Industry Taskforce.
A spokesperson for the CCAA stressed just how important continued investment in the sector is for Victoria.
“Cement, concrete, stone and sand remain the critical materials that enable Victoria’s construction industry – an industry that employs 340,000 workers and contributes 45 per cent of Victoria’s taxation revenue base,” the spokesperson stated.
“With the largest infrastructure build in the history of the state continuing, investment in Victoria’s extractive industry could never be more important.”
Of the $35.7 million, $13.4 million will go to the Geological Survey of Victoria to ensure continued investment in the sector as demand increases.
Earth Resources Regulation will benefit from $10.6 million to accelerate regulatory approvals for materials closest to the market, while $6.9 million will ensure the success of the Extractive Resource Roadmap and all the Strategic Extractive Resource Areas (SERAs) associated with it.
The Victorian Minister for Resources Jaclyn Symes said the economy was built on the success and output of quarries and would receive appropriate funding.
“The resources sector is a crucial part of our economic recovery – we want to ensure quarries can continue to provide the building blocks of our infrastructure program and create more jobs,” Symes said.
“We’re making sure that efficient and responsible regulation of the sector goes hand in hand with the development of future sites – including the local community in decision‑making and leaving a positive legacy.”
The CCAA, while pleased with the Budget’s focus on resources, had one eye on the state’s long-term growth, as extractive production is expected to reach 100 million tonnes by 2050 – double 2016 levels.
“The funding directed towards infrastructure and enabling the extractive industry is very welcome, but there is still much work to do to drive improvements around approvals of new materials to market,” its spokeperson stated.
“CCAA continues to work closely with the Victorian Government to ensure the money allocated makes a difference where it is needed, in enabling the whole industry to replenish supply.”
Building the bridge to recovery
While the CCAA has an influence on government budget allocations, the same cannot be said for its influence on snap-lockdown decisions as the waves of COVID-19 restrictions have hampered industries across the world.
In February 2021, CCAA chief executive officer emphasised the organisation’s stance on “circuit breaker lockdowns”.
“We call on governments to support the sector’s ongoing operations throughout these isolated outbreaks,” Slattery said. “The many thousands of Australians employed in building and construction are essential to the building of the very infrastructure that keeps us safe, from homes to schools, bridges to roads and of course, hospitals.
“The bridge to recovery post the pandemic will be built on a strong and viable building and construction sector.”
More recently, as Melbourne has once again entered a snap lockdown, this time at least seven days long, the CCAA commended the government for allowing operations such as quarries to remain up and running.
“CCAA has advocated strongly for the sector’s ongoing operations through State lockdowns,” its spokesperson stated.
“We are therefore very pleased to see that the Victorian Government has responded and adopted a position where construction, including our supply chain, can remain open in this latest circuit breaker lockdown.”