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Sand quarry sees untimely end as imports take priority

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A sand quarry closure on the European island nation of Jersey means building materials costs will rise for its population. The site reached its permitted production levels with no extension application in sight.

The Simon Sand Quarry on the island of St Helier made headlines in late 2020, after it was announced the operation would not have its permit renewed beyond 2023.

This was due to improvement plans for St Helier Harbour which would improve the feasibility of importing future construction materials.

Simon Sand and Gravel managing director Jason Simon told the Jersey Evening Post there was no option but to close the quarry, as further supplies of sand would require government approvals which were not forthcoming.

“I’ve been working here since 1989 and since then I have spent most of my time making sure we can continue digging sand,” he said.

“I feel devastated to be the one who isn’t carrying on.”

Simon Sand was a third-generation business handed down to Jason from his father and grandfather in 1989.

To accommodate the loss of the Simon Sand quarry, Channel Islands supplier Ronez has taken advantage of the new arrangements at St Helier Harbour, importing a share of 2000 tonnes of sand.

Ronez managing director Mike Osborne told the Jersey Evening Post that hiring Ronez to import materials would come at a cost for Jersey.

“It is a well-known inevitability that imported aggregate is more expensive than locally won material,” he said.

“… [We] are negotiating the details of certain costs, and the longer-term scale of the importation strategy still contains some uncertainties.”

The 2000-tonne importation will cater to any construction needs in Jersey while the harbour undergoes the required upgrades for more frequent shipments in the coming years.

Ports of Jersey chief executive Matt Thomas told the Jersey Evening Post that the harbour had been preparing for when the time came to upgrade.

“From a planning perspective, the Environment Minister has said that the Island would become an importer of sand from 2023 onwards,” he said.

“We have had that in the back of our minds and our plans for the Harbour have been absolutely to ensure that we’ve got the capacity to accommodate the importation of the sand. We’ve got no concerns that we will be able to do that.

“If that timeline of the end of 2023 is brought forward, we can accelerate up, we’ll deal with it and we’ll do it as efficiently as we possibly can.”

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Jersey sand quarry to close in 2023

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