Quarries around the world face communities who resist having one in their backyard while demanding increased supply, an international quarry meeting in Queenstown heard today.
New Zealand’s Aggregate & Quarry Association (AQA)is hosting our first meeting of the Global Aggregates Information Network, GAIN’s 20 members represent nearly 80% of global production of aggregate, rock and sand.
AQA CEO Wayne Scott told the GAIN Meeting today that New Zealand’s huge infrastructure deficit demands more quarry materials even before those needed to repair and mitigate climate change.
“Cyclone Gabrielle was a wake-up call. We have a lot of rock accessible to do repairs to the homes and roads and seawalls that are increasingly needed. But nobody wants a quarry in their backyard.”
Wayne Scott says quarry industry leaders from around the world are saying they all face the same challenges.
“We heard the word NIMBY – not in my backyard – a lot today. Opposition to quarries is getting stronger in many parts of the world even as the budgets for infrastructure built on quarry materials get bigger.”
The US had a US$1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed in 2021. India is spending a similar amount including 4,500km of expressways alone. China extracted 17.4 billion tonnes from its quarries last year. One site on the Yangtze River alone produced 100M tonnes – twice New Zealand’s annual consumption.
“Many of our quarries are family operations producing fewer than a few dozen truckloads of materials a week,” says Wayne Scott. “They are members of their own communities but can still face five years to get a consent or a renewal, if at all.”
GAIN members across six continents are often having to move away from population centres. Sydney’s nearest quarry is now 175km away.
“That might sound like a win but as the distance increases, so rapidly do the costs because much of what you pay for quarried materials comes from transporting it.”
He says as climate change takes effect, New Zealand Government, councils and particularly communities will have to decide if they want local quarries producing affordable building materials or huge cost and carbon increases.
“Equally, quarries here and overseas are increasingly accepting that they need to work more with their local communities and show they are reducing their environmental effects and being more sustainable. There are some win-wins to be had for everyone.”
Contact: Wayne Scott is available for interview. Contact AQA Communications Adviser Brendon Burns 0274 305 501.