Expansion bid: One of the two Wardell quarries that have applied to the Ballina Shire Council to substantially increase their production of shale and chert.
Expansion bid: One of the two Wardell quarries that have applied to the Ballina Shire Council to substantially increase their production of shale and chert. Jay Cronan

Local quarries may triple rates

QUARRIES across the Northern Rivers are seeking permission from councils to increase extraction rates because of the amount of roadworks planned for the region.

Two quarries at Wardell this week applied to the Ballina Shire Council to triple the amount of shale and chert they extract.

If approved the companies would be able to extract 150,000 tonnes a year from one quarry, instead of 50,000 tonnes, and another 150,000 tonnes from the other quarry.

The council's regulatory services group manager, Rod Willis, said applications such as these had ‘pluses and minuses'.

“Because the RTA is planning a lot of roadworks, many quarries will want to increase extraction rates so they can produce more in a shorter period of time,” he said.

However, Mr Willis said the council had to be mindful of increased extraction rates.

He said increased productivity would mean more trucks on the road.

“We must consider whether the roads can handle that and the amenity for nearby residents,” he said.

“There are pluses and minuses. If annual extraction rates are increased, the quarry life will get shorter.

“I imagine there will be many quarries across the region that will be seeking to increase their extraction rate to provide for the needs of the roadworks.”

In the Lismore area, the controversial application to expand operations at Champions Quarry at Tucki Tucki is currently being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning.

If approved, the quarry area would be increased from two hectares to 16 hectares and the maximum extraction rates would increase from 63,000 tonnes to 250,000 tonnes.

The public exhibition period closed in April and the department is now reviewing submissions.

The Department of Planning has given the green light for the expansion of the South Ballina sand quarry, so it can now extract 75,000 tonnes of sand every year.

In approving the expansion, the director of mining and industry projects, David Kitto, said the demand for high-quality sand in the region was increasing because of the construction of the Ballina and Alstonville bypasses.



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