Royalla Quarry Opposition
Royalla Quarry Opposition
Royalla Hard Rock Quarry Proposal
Monaro Mix (NSW) and Pacific Formwork Pty Limited (ACT) are proposing a joint venture to build a hard rock quarry in Royalla. This quarry will be located within 2km of New South Wales homes, within 5kms of ACT homes and within an E2 Environmentally Protected area with already identified critically endangered species.
There are a significant number of quarries already in the area contributing to ground tremors and air pollution due to blasting, and with existing material deposits estimated to last at least 50 years. It should also be noted that these other quarries, within 10km of Canberra, are all operating at less than 50% capacity.
This quarry is expected to generate just 20-30 jobs, which is negligible compared to the wildlife it will kill or displace and the social and financial impacts on the some 37,000 residents in the immediate area (not including the southern ACT suburbs in the impact zone).
Grounds for objection
- Threatened species,
- Incidental wildlife displacement and death
- Water table drawdown
2. Health risks
- Safety risks related to truck movements
- Cyclist and other road users
- Children commuting to school
3. Amenity of the area
- Noise blasting
- Noise trucks
- Seismic shocks caused by blasting
- Power disruptions and electrical equipment damage
- No net revenue benefit to the state
- No shortage of aggregate
- Costs to the state and territory governments; health, roads, infrastructure d. Costs borne by the residents; property values, health, blasting damage (dams, buildings etc).
The affected area is zoned E2 – Environmental Conservation, the highest environmental protection zoning short of national park status. This zoning was no-doubt given as a result of the environmental value of the area and indicates the local government deemed the area to be of the highest environmental significance. A quarry is not consistent with this determination and should not be allowed in this zone.
The property on which the quarry is proposed to be situated is an example of a relatively undamaged box gum grassy woodland. Surveys of this type of habitat around Canberra have identified the presence of several endangered species including the Pink-tailed Worm Lizard, Stripped Legless Lizard, Glossy Black Cockatoo and several species of orchid. While a thorough, independent, environmental survey will be required to confirm the presence of these species it is likely that at least some of them are present.
The area is also habitat to a number of other important species not on the endangered list such as a nesting pair of Wedge-tailed eagles that deserve protection.
If the mine related truck movements are also considered there will be many more wild animals killed on the surrounding roads including wombats, kangaroos and countless birds.
The final environmental concern we have is the drawdown of water for dust control on an already over committed aquafer. During the recent drought the local aquafer ran dry on many surrounding properties and the approval of a large cemetery in the district coupled with the quarry is likely to further deplete this vital resource.
The dust produced from the quarrying of hard rock is well recognised to cause a range of respiratory conditions in addition to other less well-defined diseases such as lung cancer. The rock typically contains moderate to high silica levels and this quarry is also likely to produce significant silica containing dust. This dust has been shown to travel many kilometres depending on particle size and will affect people living or working in the area. We have undertaken a literature review of quarry dust related disease and found a number of peer reviewed publications that point to the effects of dust on workers and the surrounding residential population. It should be noted that there are thousands of people living within a
5 km radius of the proposed quarry both within the ACT and NSW and most will be affected by dust from the quarry when prevailing winds blow in their direction.
We did not feel that this objection was the place to present a detailed review of the relevant health related literature, but we can provide the publications upon request along with a summary of the findings if it is of interest.
In addition to the potential dust related health issues there are numerous other safety issues related to the development of a quarry. In particular the truck movement required to transport the aggregate from the mine to the cement works. The company estimated 100 trucks per day would be required to transport aggregate, meaning there would be 200 truck movements daily (100 empty, 100 filled). These trucks will almost certainly utilise a small local road and Old Cooma Road (single lane rural road) to transport the aggregate as it is highly unlikely that the current plan of connecting directly to the Monaro Highway (100km zone) will be permitted. Old Cooma Road is a popular cycle route on which several residents ride to work 2 – 3 times weekly. Assuming a 12-hour mine workday, this is one truck every 3.5 minutes. Undoubtedly this will be a significant risk to other road users including motorists and cyclist. On a bicycle journey to and from work we can expect to be passed by 4 – 5 trucks each way on a single lane 100 to 80 km/hr road.
Our next safety concern is the presence of school children on Old Cooma Road and branch roads during school bus pick-up and drop-off times. A significant number of children commute by bus (as mine did) and the trucks would appear to be a clear and present danger to both the school bus and children walking to and from the bus stops.
Amenity of the area
The development of a quarry in Royalla will significantly reduce the amenity of the local area in numerous ways.
- There are the obvious negative consequences of trucks movements along Old Cooma
- Road every 3.5 minutes along with the associated noise, dust and risk to road users.
- The noise caused by blasting which carries for kilometres from the quarry.
- The shocks created by blasting which are likely to be heard and felt many kilometres from the quarry as reported by residents living within 5 km of the Williamsdale quarry.
- Damage to buildings and dams caused by seismic shock caused by blasting propagating through the bedrock. This has been a problem in relation to the existing the Williamsdale quarry.
- Damage to domestic electrical equipment, pumps and agricultural electrical equipment caused by brownouts and voltage spikes as large rock crushers come online in the morning and are shut down in the evening. This was a problem for more than 10 years from the Williamsdale quarry until the power supply was upgraded.
The company representative informed us at a meeting that the quarry was being built as the owner of Monaro Mix concrete felt he was paying too much for aggregate from the existing quarries in the area. The aim was to vertically integrate aggregate production with concrete production. The end result is that the existing two quarries will reduce their output by the amount of production of the new quarry. In term of NSW government royalties, there will be no change in revenue.
In the same way that a change in production location will not affect royalty revenue there is likely to be minimal job creation as the shift in production from existing quarries will simply see a reduction in employment in those quarries to relocate in the new quarry.
There is also no argument to be made that there is a shortage of aggregate in the Queanbeyan area as the two exiting quarries are currently only producing at 50% and 70% capacity.
All developments come with associated costs. Many of these are met by the developer such as the upgrading of access roads, mining infrastructure, water provision and so on.
However, these costs are only some of the costs that result from mining activity. Other costs include those borne by government at all levels, costs borne by the local residents and costs borne by the environment. While these costs are typically difficult to quantify and some may be difficult to pinpoint, they are no less real.
Costs that will be borne by the state government are likely to be;
- Health related costs – hospitalisation for increased rates of respiratory disease and other dust caused diseases such as cancers. Health costs associated with accidents caused by the truck movements.
- Road repair or upgrading for Old Cooma Road due to the wear and tear created by truck movements. The road is currently not to a standard where it can sustain the traffic.
- Other costs such as management of road dust, water runoff from dust affected roads, management of water quality in water ways downstream from the quarry.
Costs borne by the local residents will be;
- Health related costs from dust diseases.
- Management of noise from trucks and mine blasting.
- Repair of building damage to houses caused by seismic shocks from blasting. This is currently an issue for property owners near the Williamsdale quarry.
- Damage to rural dams as a result of seismic shocks cracking dam walls.
- Loss of property value as a result of impact from trucks, mine blasting and dust.
In conclusion the benefits of the quarry will accrue to the developer, leaving both the NSW government, the local residents and the environment to subsidise the profits of the concrete company.
THIS PROJECT CANNOT LEGITIMATELY BE CONSIDERED A PROJECT OF STATE SIGNIFICANCE.
Majority Community Sentiment
The residents of Royalla and surrounding regions are in the majority against this proposal.
The two entities who have proposed this venture, appear to have purposely neglected to include south side ACT suburbs in their community notification and consultation process.
As a community we find this incredibly disappointing and will working as hard as we can to ensure it does not go ahead.
What we’re doing
The residents in the immediate area are:
- Forming work groups to research and respond to the proposal submission.
- Building communication networks within the area to build awareness and identify individuals and resources that can be used to respond to a proposal
- Contacting key decision makers in council, parliament and news groups to express our opposition
What you can do to help
Whilst the proposal is in early stages and a formal opposition response is not yet required, there are still important things that can be done to help.
You can lend your support by:
1) Writing to the key decision makers
2) Like and follow our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/royallaquarryopposition and share posts as much as possible
3) Submit a personal impact statement that can be used to support our opposition submission, here.
4) Donate to our cause
As a small community group, we are up against powerful forces. But we know we can win this if we harness people power.
Your donation will go towards:
- Awareness raising through advertising, marketing and publications
- Environmental reports and other expertise
- Legal advice
5) Sign this petition to let the decision makers know we have a strong base of individuals who are opposed to a quarry
If you have any queries or concerns, we are contactable on the following details:
On behalf of all concerned residents in the area,