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The NZ capital Wellington will face an aggregate shortage if the city’s Kiwi Point Quarry does not expand its operations.
The NZ capital Wellington will face an aggregate shortage if the city’s Kiwi Point Quarry does not expand its operations.

NZ capital to address impending aggregate shortage

New Zealand’s capital city will exhaust its rock supply within two decades if it does not expand operations at its only quarry.

Kiwi Point Quarry, which is located in Ngauranga Gorge, is owned by the Wellington City Council. A spokesperson for the council told Quarry that the city would eventually run out of aggregates as the two other quarries in the Wellington region would run out of rock sooner than anticipated.

Only Kiwi Point Quarry’s northern hill has been quarried and the council would require permission to allow quarrying to commence on the southern hill.

However, if it gets the go ahead, the quarried southern face would be visible to drivers from Ngauranga Gorge.

“No other viable alternative site has been identified – several quarries in the region were closed in the last couple of decades because of the impact on the environment,” the spokesperson noted.

The next steps

Wellington’s population is estimated to grow by 46,000 in the next 20 years and Wellington City Council has indicated this means 391,000 tonnes of quarry products would be needed each year.

Council has also estimated that if there were no rock resources available, supplies would have to be transported in, which would potentially increase costs and add road congestion to the city.

Given there could be a perceived conflict of interest – the council is effectively giving itself permission to approve further extraction – an independent commissioner will make a recommendation under a district plan change process.

Wellington City Council’s portfolio leader for urban development Andy Foster added the council was hoping to get public support and approval through the process.

“Having good quality aggregate close to the city is worth millions of dollars every year to Wellington ratepayers, construction industry and homeowners,” Foster said. “Losing Kiwi Point would also dramatically shorten the lives of the other two quarries in the Wellington area. There is a huge financial and environmental cost in moving heavy material long distances.

“We are one of the few councils in the country that still own an operative quarry within a few kilometres of the city centre,” Foster added. “Having Kiwi Point Quarry supply the rocks our city is built on has been very important and we hope continues to be for our future.”

Public consultation is due to start in October 2017. Should Wellington City Council get the go ahead, the district plan change process would commence between December 2017 and December 2018 and would include consultation, submissions and hearings.

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