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Latrobe Valley Sands is adopting a new excavation technique to increase output and water efficiency.
Latrobe Valley Sands is adopting a new excavation technique to increase output and water efficiency.

State govt funds quarry’s new excavation technique

A sand quarry has received government funding to support its expansion and transition to an excavation technique that would significantly reduce its water use.

Latrobe Valley Sands, a sand quarry located in Traralgon West in Victoria, has received $50,000 in state government funding from the $15 million Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund.

The funding will become part of the $850,000 expansion the business is currently undertaking, which will enable the quarry to process a larger volume of extracted sand as well as significantly reduce water usage from 6500 litres per minute to 1800 litres per minute.

Commenting on the award of the grant on behalf of Victorian Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan, Member for Morwell Russell Northe said, “This grant will help the company boost production, increase employment and significantly improve water efficiency due to adoption of a mining technique which uses less water, known as dry feed excavation.”

According to a report by Latrobe Valley Express, this technique would remove the need for the “washing out” sand harvesting method, which involves blasting quarry walls with high-pressure water streams.

Quarry owner and manager Chris Blackwood said that the cost of the new shovel extraction process would be higher, but that this would be offset by an increase in output levels.

“We have been able to drop water usage onsite by 75 per cent, and have boosted production up by 35 per cent through dry extraction,” Mr Blackwood told Latrobe Valley Express.

Northe added that the expansion made “economic and environmental sense” given that demand for the quarry’s high-quality sand had been on the rise due to its suitability for use in building materials, particularly roof tiles. The expansion would also create at least three new jobs for the local region.

“These locally sourced sands create a massive amount of indirect employment across Gippsland by keeping local construction costs down, which really underlines the importance of ensuring as much local product as possible comes from the local community,” Northe was cited as saying. “$850,000 is nothing to sneeze at, so we are pleased to contribute a small amount to the scheme of things.”

The upgrade of the Latrobe Valley Sands quarry is expected to reach completion in May 2015.

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