Highway upgrade has started for Coraki
THE Pacific Highway project has already made itself felt on the Mid-Richmond.
Some of the best blue metal, or basalt gravel, between New Guinea and Tasmania is being trucked out of Peterson’s Quarry bound for the last stretch of coastal highway upgrade between Ballina and Glenugie.
Truck and dog traffic
Residents using the Coraki to Woodburn road witnessed ‘truck and dog’ (truck with trailer) traffic last week and they can expect it to continue, on and off, for the next five to seven years.
Peterson’s Quarry has been identified as the southern-most deposit of high-grade basalt rock to be used on this section of the highway upgrade.
A Development Application and EIS have been lodged with the state for approval of the project, which will have three million tonnes of blue metal extracted and value added on site during the upgrade.
The company is family- owned Quarry Solutions, at Chinderah, which took possession of the council-owned quarry in July via a commercial lease.
100 year old quarry
After the close of the highway project the DA will lapse but Quarry Solutions aims to keep working the original Peterson’s Quarry, which dates back 100 years, and has a permit to extract an annual limit of 250,000 tonnes.
With a projected yearly turn-over of one million tonnes for the next three years carried by truck and dog in 33-tonne loads, it is expected that the Coraki to Woodburn Rd will carry more trucks to complete the new highway.
Already the road near Swan Bay has failed next to the river bank and is being repaired by council gangs.
However a per-tonne royalty paid to the council by Quarry Solutions is expected to more than cover maintenance costs.
Local economy boost
Quarry Solutions estimates $1.9m will be pushed into the local economy each year in contractors’ wages and suppliers.
The company is keen to help fund community projects in Coraki, according to Quarry Solutions project manager Terry Woods.
Studies were done before the quarry expansion DA, with sacred hoop pines important to the Bundjalung culture being protected, along with a stand of original rainforest macadamia trees.
No noise issues
Noise is not expected to be an issue, with crushing work in the historic quarry pit, surrounded by basalt walls, and expansion will extend from the pit into new ground, with the pit walls providing an acoustic buffer from neighbouring properties.
Blasting will have individual charges detonated one at a time, reducing vibration and noise.
The quarry’s basalt is naturally low in silica, so dust is not expected to be an issue.
In fact, the chemical make-up of rock at Peterson’s Quarry has crystalised olivene and pyroxene in excellent condition which means that when crushed these crystals will remain intact.
In poor quality stone these crystals fail and form a clay susceptible to swelling and shrinking.
“This product is low risk,” said consultant geologist Rod Huntley, who has assessed basalt rock from New Guinea to Tasmania and who vouched for the quality of stone at Coraki.
“Smaller rock crystals absorb dynamic load and handle better impact,” Mr Huntley said.
“There are no shrinking or expansion issues,” he said.
“This project is as easy as it gets.”
Public submissions on a new DA to expand the quarry close tomorrow before the NSW State Government makes its decision, expected sometime around March.