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Managing regulatory and environmental challenges to extend quarry’s viability

 

A concrete and quarrying producer has successfully sought the assistance of a consultancy and engineering specialist on a variety of complex consent applications.

Atlas’s Brynderwyn Quarry in Auckland, New Zealand has been producing aggregate for construction for 60 years. Due to capacity constraints, Golder was engaged by Atlas to support the process of obtaining relevant resource consents and permits for a new overburden site to enable continued stripping of the quarry faces.

Following several strategic decisions by the client, the project extended into reconsenting existing operations and preparing consent applications for a new pit to provide certainty for another 50 years of aggregate supply.

To facilitate ongoing mineral extraction at the site, Atlas sought to first remove overburden (the non-saleable or non-processable soil, clay and weathered rock overlying the mineral deposit) and cart it via haul road to a new overburden placement area (OBPA) that was previously a pine plantation.

Golder first conducted a scoping exercise to review the site’s regulatory framework and determine the likelihood of obtaining permits for quarry operations. Its team reviewed existing site permits, relevant regulations, existing and proposed site operations, and visited the site. Golder also met with regional and district authorities to discuss their views and determine the level of information they would require to support such an application.

Golder prepared resource consent applications to the regional and district councils for an overburden placement area, replacement consents for existing permits and new permits to expand the quarry’s operations into a new pit. However, the company informed Atlas that obtaining permits to expand its operations was likely to be very difficult, in light of the challenging policy directive of the relevant planning documents.

The applications included land use consents associated with quarrying operations and stripping of significant vegetation, water take permits, and a stormwater discharge permit . A particularly challenging aspect was the proposed removal of vegetation within the Brynderwyn Hills, which could be a potential roadblock to the ongoing quarry operations should consent be denied. To overcome this challenge, significant ecological mitigation was developed. Atlas committed to the relocation of significant fauna along with pest management, supported by ecologists and ecological management plans.

Stormwater measures for the proposed OBPA included utilisation of “dirty” water channels to convey sediment-laden run-off to a new sediment retention pond, and utilisation of clean water channels to intercept and direct run-off from disturbed catchments. In addition, temporary cut-off drains would be established, and the current haul road crossing would be regraded.

Eventually, Atlas received the resource consent for its operations, which was a significant achievement. Following a successful collaboration between the two companies, Atlas engaged Golder to prepare a management plan for the quarry site operations and to oversee the development of ecological management plans and implementation, including relocation of native fauna, pest management controls, and site rehabilitation. With Golder’s environmental solutions and strategic consenting advice, the quarry site is set to achieve ongoing viability for the next 50 years, whilst also providing beneficial environmental outcomes.

For more information, visit the Golder website.

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