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Proposed Blue Hills quarry

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Blue Hills
The Blue Hills on the outskirts of Maldon in between Shelbourne and Baringhup.
Photo: Tarrangower Times.

Mawsons Concrete and Quarries are planning to dig a quarry in the Blue Hills, which are located on the outskirts of Maldon, and are nestled between Shelbourne and Baringhup.

The Tarrangower Times spoke to the Environment and Compliance Officer, Shari Rankin who stated, “At this stage it’s too early to determine a proposed start date but we don’t envisage this being until at least 2023. This will depend on the outcome of the Environmental Effects Statement, which we envisage submitting in the first half of 2022. The outcome of this  referral will guide our next steps.

“We held a community information session at Blue Hills in July, which was well attended and are hoping to hold another information session in late November or early December.

“Community feedback has been largely supportive with some concerns raised that we are addressing through our study program,” said Shari. “Concerns have mainly been around potential biodiversity and traffic impacts and studies in these areas are underway.

“We’re really early in the process and we are keen to engage with the community as much as possible so if groups or individuals want to get in touch we’d love to hear from them.”

Information provided to nearby landowners outlines the details of the proposed quarry as follows.

Mawsons Concrete and Quarries believes the Blue Hills to be a good site given its central location and proximity to the Calder Highway which provides links to other major highways. 

The estimated life of the proposed quarry is 70-100 hundred years and at the peak of operation it is estimated that there will be 500,000 tonnes of rock per annum. However, Mawsons believes the peak volume of rock will not be reached for a number of years while agreements are being established with customers.

According to Mawsons blasting will be dependent on demand and will take place on average once a month with a blast Management Plan in place to prevent impacts from vibration, noise and flying rock on neighbouring properties.

Proposed quarry plan

Mawsons conducted a preliminary assessment which indicated that approximately 30ha of native vegetation within the Box Ironbark Forest and Dry Heath Forest EVC types will need to be removed from the site for the quarry development. Any vegetation removed will need to be offset, and it is proposed that this offset will be established within the Mawsons owned land adjacent to the proposed quarry.

Mawsons are considering a number of rehabilitation options which will be informed by studies conducted during the assessment process, as well as through community consultation. The final rehabilitated quarry landform will be required to be safe and stable and a rehabilitation plan will need to be developed as part of the assessment process.

At present there is no proposed haulage route available to the public. Mawsons are considering a number of different options and will conduct environmental and traffic studies as part of the assessment process. 

The operating hours have yet to be decided but will be done in consultation with the community and regulators. Mawsons will likely propose quarry opening and haulage hours between 7am – 5pm Monday – Saturday, and blasting between 9am – 3pm Monday – Friday, with blasting occurring an average of once per month depending on demand.”

Mawsons believe that it is unlikely noises from the quarry will impact due to the distance from neighbouring houses and natural noise attenuation provided by the landscape. Mawsons will be required to meet the noise limits set out in the EPA Noise from industry in Rural Victoria (NIRV) guideline. Both the processing plant and quarry equipment will be fitted with noise abatement devices where possible, and the final design will involve processing equipment being located within the pit to further minimise noise and vibration emissions.”

Waterways have been avoided where possible and a surface water and groundwater study will be completed as part of the assessment process and any potentially impacted landowners will be consulted. Any works on waterways will be required to comply with the North Central CMA Works on Waterways Guidelines for Extractive Industry.

A Dust Management Plan will be developed for the site and will include controls such as water trucks and equipment sprayers, as well as low speed limits to ensure dust is kept to a minimum. Dust levels will be monitored regularly, and site rehabilitation will occur progressively to minimise the disturbance area.

There are a number of potential markets for quarry material with six major highway corridors within the region that require high quality crushed rock and sealing aggregate products to meet construction and maintenance requirements. There is a major rail network connecting Melbourne to both Swan Hill and Echuca that traverses the region. This network is part of the State Government’s $4 billion Regional Rail Revival program, which involves upgrading every regional passenger rail line in Victoria. High grade quarry and concrete products are required to complete the committed upgrades.

Bendigo is only 30km to the north east of the proposed Blue Hills site and is one of the fastest growing large towns in Australia. With Bendigo’s population projected to grow from ~120,000 currently to 200,000 by 2050, demand for housing and infrastructure will require high quality construction material supply (including concrete) over the medium to long term.

For more information contact: Adrian Bull, Quarry Regional Manager abull@mawsons.com.au, 0409 171 058. Shari Rankin, Environmental and Compliance Manager srankin@mawsons.com.au 0433 845 432.

Tarrangower Times 22 October 2021

This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 22 October 2021.

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