Archived page of Kin Kin Community Group Inc

Page updated 12 March 2016.

Quarry Best Practice

August 2011 - arsenic cattle dip overflowing in foreground

We hear a lot of talk about "best practice" but it is meaningless terminology unless standards are benchmarked and enforceable.

The Noosa Council letter of approval for the extension of term for this quarry (3 December 2003) includes, under heading "5. An Environmental Management Plan", the statement - "The EMP should be prepared to a standard to meet council requirements and recognised industry standards". It included the dot point: "Demonstrate a high level of environmental care and responsibility and be consistent with best practice for developments of this type in similar environments".

Neilsens Quality Gravels Pty Ltd have so far shown an operation far below industry standard at their Kin Kin Quarry.
They have been warned and fined by DERM for causing environmental harm, were under an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) for most of 2011 and have contested a Show Cause Notice issued by Sunshine Coast Council regarding alleged breaches of their Quarry Management Plans.
DEEDI Mines Inspectorate officers suspended operations for several months in 2010 for blatant breaches of the approval and the Mining and Quarrying Safety & Health Act.
For more than three years on site they had not reached a standard which allowed them to proceed with legal production, despite advising DERM that they expected to be blasting the work face by March 2010.

What is not Best Practice

Despite the legal niceties of being able to rely on approvals more than twenty-five years old, it is not best practice to:

  • design and implement a sedimentation control system which is likely, by definition, to fail on average once every five years. This regular failure will severely impact the Noosa River system catchment, without legal recourse under the EPA approval;
  • strip the overburden off millions of tonnes of rock, over several months, before even basic facilities such as a toilet or site office were in place;
  • begin to remove a significant 30 metre high natural land buffer between the quarry pit shell and the headwaters of the Noosa River system, without approval;
  • conduct blasting without notifying relevant authorities, without basic safety measures in place, and without a working knowledge of the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 ;
  • propose to extract millions of tonnes of rock using up to 4 mobile crushing and screening plants in tandem, likely to cause significant noise and dust nuisance;
  • expect council and ratepayers to fund, build and maintain up to 1.5 kilometres of access road to the quarry for constant heavy vehicle use. It is a clear condition of the approval that the operator must maintain this road.
  • begin extraction well outside the approved extraction area in breach of the approved Quarry Management Plan;
  • build and use a sediment dam on an adjoining allotment which has no approval for extractive industry;
  • operate for over 3 years with no motor vehicle workshop or contaminant containment system for servicing machinery;
  • operate for over 3 years with no machinery wash-down facility, despite machinery having been used for excavating, loading and transporting over 1000 tonnes of arsenic-contaminated soil;
  • operate for over 3 years without connection to the electricity grid. Plans to use diesel powered generators well into the future are totally unacceptable;
  • operate for over 3 years without a telephone connection or mobile phone reception;
  • operate without adequate perimeter fencing, allowing regular access to the quarry site by livestock;
  • operate within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with no sustainability plan in place;
  • claim that the current sedimentation system is larger than the requirement under the EPA development approval, when the approval always called for a system capable of containing a 1 in 5 year 24 hour rain event "from disturbed areas". An ever-increasing area of land will be "disturbed" as quarrying proceeds, but there is no more room on the site for expansion of the sediment dams;
  • claim that the size of the new sediment system has therefore compromised the planned hard stand/processing area, when it was in fact required to be over two and a half times larger from the beginning;
  • claim that a revised Quarry Management Plan submitted in December 2011 will mean the quarry will have a net positive effect on the environment.

Quarry Best Practice - What does it require?

  • strive to minimise the quarry's effect on the social, economic and environmental values of the community;
  • research, test and implement the most efficient quarrying equipment available;
  • minimise carbon emissions by constantly monitoring and improving plant and equipment technology and usage;
  • actively and openly offset carbon emissions through a registered carbon trading scheme. Strive for carbon emission neutrality, to best industry standard, within five years;
  • install and maintain a sediment control system to minimise environmental harm even in extreme conditions - such as a 1 in 100 year 24 hour storm;
  • suppress dust from all operations at all times;
  • keep noise to the minimum achievable level;
  • inform the public of impending blasting and conduct blasts in a manner which demonstrates world's best practice;
  • admit any shortcomings revealed in operations and strive to improve performance;
  • research and implement a comprehensive sustainability strategy to world's highest standard. Recognise the Noosa Biosphere and its sustainability goals and work with the Biosphere to achieve those goals;
  • implement a comprehensive site specific environmental plan which identifies all possible environmental risks and provides solutions and penalties for non-compliance;
  • identify the endangered regional ecosystem on the site and protect it from all harm;
  • determine the long-term rehabilitation and end-use strategy for the whole site before beginning extraction. Implement rehabilitation to an agreed plan, on time, as quarry work progresses;
  • engage the community in meaningful and honest dialogue, to explain the operation of the quarry and its expected impact on the community;
  • control quarry output so that traffic movements are steady and spaced, without massive peaks and troughs which impact on other road users;
  • contribute significantly to road construction and maintenance costs, whether required by law or not, as recognition of the extra burden quarry trucks place on infrastructure;
  • put something tangible back into the community, such as significant public infrastructure, as recognition of the deleterious effect the quarry has on social fabric;
  • aim for "The Best-in-Class Approach", matching performance against the company's peers and striving to be the best. This is quite easy to benchmark because Neilsen's only competitor on the Sunshine Coast holds membership of several internationally recognised sustainability indexes.