Leading construction materials companies have united in Queensland to advocate for reforms of the existing quarry approvals system.
In what has been described as an unprecedented show of unity, 13 companies representing 90 per cent of Queensland’s concrete and quarrying materials production have called on the Palaszczuk Government to provide greater oversight in the quarry approval process and protection for existing operations. The group fears major construction and infrastructure projects within the state could face materials shortages and cost blowouts due to a current inability to secure approvals for new quarries. Boral’s Queensland executive general manager Simon Jeffery, who is the spokesperson for the group, said current population growth indicated production would need to grow by a third in the next 20 years to match current demand. “In southeast Queensland alone, for instance, we estimate the population to grow by an extra 1.9 million by 2041, which translates to an estimated extra 19 million tonnes of material needed per year from current levels,” he said in a statement issued by the Queensland branch of Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia (CCAA).
“More certain access to quarry and sand reserves will be imperative for the industry to meet demand from communities throughout the state,” Jeffery said. “When quarry products are sourced close to their end use there is less impact on local roads from truck movements.” Simon Jeffery, Boral Simon Jeffery, Boral “More certain access to quarry and sand reserves will be imperative for the industry to meet demand from communities throughout the state” Simon Jeffery, Boral Charlie Stoneman, the northern region general manager of Hanson Construction Materials, said the industry was not seeking to circumnavigate local planning controls or due process. “We are calling on the State Government to provide greater oversight in the quarry approval process and provide greater protection for existing quarry sites, particularly in Key Resource Areas,” Stoneman said. “We just require the process to be balanced and fair, so that community expectations are understood and business, financial and social objectives are met to ensure continued growth in our local areas at a cost-effective rate.”
Holcim Aggregates Queensland general manager Peter Ambrose added that a strengthened construction materials sector and improved access would bring significant economic and social benefits. “Our industry employs 8000 Queenslanders and an additional 20,000 indirectly and makes an important contribution to local economies,” he said. Additional quarries needed in Victoria Calls for approval system reforms have also been echoed in Victoria, where industry groups also recently argued local materials should be more readily available. John Kilgour, the CEO of the Civil Contractors Federation, said of major concern is the slow pace of government reforms to approve new reserves in response to increasing demand for resources. The current situation could otherwise lead to raw building materials being imported from interstate and overseas. The Victorian Government’s Extractive Resources Strategy aims to keep critical building resources at competitive prices.
The Victorian Government’s Extractive Resources Strategy aims to keep critical building resources at competitive prices. “We’ve got something like $103 billion of projects either under construction or in the pipeline, and we use about 8 tonnes of extracted materials for every head of population each year here in Victoria,” he told 3AW Breakfast. Kilgour said approximately 15 new quarries were needed in Victoria in the next 30 to 35 years but finding new sites was challenging. “Obviously the material is important, but just as important is the proximity to where the projects are being undertaken,” he said. “For every 25km that we have to transport the quarry material it’s going to add about $2 billion of costs on to the projects.” Kilgour’s comments come despite the launch of the Victorian Government’s latest Extractive Resources Strategy.
Released in June 2018, the plan aims to ensure critical building resources continue to be available at a competitive price within the state. In its May budget this year, the Andrews Government committed a further $29.4 billion to building and improving roads and rail across the state, in addition to $46 billion invested since 2014. At the time, the CCAA’s Victoria and Tasmania state director Brian Hauser labelled this a “tremendous outcome for the sector”, which highlighted the Victorian Government’s commitment to the sector. “The development of new risk-based approval guidelines last year supported by a more capable regulator [the Earth Resources Regulator] will ensure both the community and industry will have greater confidence in the release of critical quarry materials supply to support the government’s ‘Big Build’,” he said.