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Certified experts for quarry certification

The National Transport Research Organisation has taken another step to secure the sector’s future through the provision of quarry certification. 

The National Transport Road Organisation (NTRO) has a long history with private and public projects across Australia.

Formerly known as the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), the NTRO is a not-for-profit organisation that deals with research and innovation for roads, rail, ports and airports, allowing businesses to make evidence-based decisions when it comes to materials and resource usage.

Furthering that relationship with the transport industry naturally led the NTRO towards the quarrying industry, given its central role as a supplier of aggregates and other construction materials used in major roads and transport infrastructure projects.

Taking the time to explain the focus on quarry certifications and why the organisation is best suited to this type of work, NTRO chief operating officer Dr Richard Yeo spoke to Quarry about the benefits it brings to the wider industry.

“We have simply seen an opportunity and an area where we can add value to the market through certification of products, services and processes,” Yeo said.

In 2022, NTRO partnered with the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) to transition the DTP laboratory and field-testing services into the NTRO national services. This included laboratory materials researching testing and conducting laboratory source rock assessments in conjunction with DTP geologists who conduct the Victorian quarry accreditation process.

“It just came naturally, as we were already interested in the certification of products, services and processes, and quarry products fell into that,” Yeo said.

“We felt we could add value there and, as such, we took over the laboratory service and we look to improve on what was being done.

“The NTRO has always been involved in setting specifications for the road and transport industry, and showing that governmental and environmental requirements are meaningful and drive outcomes that are beneficial for asset owners.”

NTRO has an already established history with quarry materials assesment and certification, having worked with DTP and wider transport agencies, in testing samples from quarries and assessing the expected use of materials. Currently operating through DTP, Victorian quarries are now being informed that the testing will be conducted at the NTRO laboratory.

Changing landscape for certification

As requirements change across the board, NTRO has identified a number of key challenges the industry faces when it comes to certification.

Part of these challenges stem from the fact quarries do not have a set of national requirements by which to abide, instead operating under jurisdictional requirements that Yeo describes as lacking “consistency and harmonisation between states”.

Other challenges fall under the realms of changing requirements for carbon emissions generated from operations, specific decarbonisation requirements and general mandates for reduced energy usage.

Most of the research and testing NTRO conducts when it comes to quarry certification is centred around the fit-for-purpose use of materials.

“We’ve been very involved over many years in the identification of fit-for-purpose use of materials,” Yeo said.

“Best fit-for-purpose doesn’t necessarily mean the best quality materials being used everywhere, but rather finding where marginal materials can find a use and including use of marginal materials where they’re known to perform or where we can modify them to ensure that they have the performance outcomes desired by the structure they are a part of.”

To facilitate this aspect of certification and share the information with the rest of the industry, NTRO has developed a range of performance testing and long-term monitoring solutions.

“Our laboratories are state-of-the-art and lend themselves to conducting performance tests which might take decades in real-time to carry out to be done in a much-reduced timeframe,” Yeo said.

“We have a full-scale accelerated loading facility in Melbourne where we can test a full-scale road pavement under heavy loading on, built out of whatever materials we need to see tested, and then we closely observe how it performs in a very short time.

“So we can simulate 20 years of life in just a few months and beyond that, we have long-term pavement performance monitoring studies that then follow through and see how the solutions work in a real-world setting.”


In an ideal world, all infrastructure would be built using the highest-grade materials for every single project. However, that isn’t feasible and can often lend itself to quarries depreciating in value if there is a misaligned use of high-grade products for projects that do not require them.

NTRO has confirmed that these types of materials should not be used where the demands for their properties are not required.

“Building a light duty car park, for example, requires materials which are fit-for-purpose, not high-quality materials specified for a heavily trafficked motorway,” Yeo said.

Aligning the industry with the market and services it supplies to through certifying quarries with not just high-grade but also fit-for-purpose materials is an important role for the future fidelity of the wider extractive resources industry.

The pressures placed on the industry – from the expectations of sustainability, emissions reduction and resilience of the end product – are significant challenges that NTRO aims to support quarries in overcoming by undertaking the necessary research.

“There’s a lot of challenges that lay ahead for the industry,” Yeo said.

“But, through research and investigation into alternatives such as recycled and blended materials, we will be able to help the quarrying industry prosper.” •

To learn more, visit arrb.com.au



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