Pictured above: Earlier days at Puketutu Island Quarry
I was asked to write an article about quarrying over the past 50-odd years as part of the celebration of the fifty year anniversary of the Aggregate and Quarrying Association. So I sat and thought about the subject. Looking back I realise that most of the quarries that I worked in (Auckland region) are now closed.
I started at Ivan Whale’s Panama Road quarry in Otahuhu. When it closed I was transferred to Greenmount Quarry in East Tamaki.
When this quarry was sold to W Stevenson & Sons I left the quarry and went to work for a steel supply company which did not last long.
Less than six months later I was working for Wilkins & Davies at Puketutu Island Quarry where I was lucky to be given the chance and the support to gain my Quarry Management Certificates (both B Grade and A Grade) and Shotfiring certificate.
On leaving Puketutu I was employed working for Keith Neiderer and after that I went to work at Puhinui Scoria and then on to the Manukau City Council Quarries as Quarries manager.
After I left the Manukau City Council I went to work as a Quarry Inspector in the Auckland/Northland region and when the Mining Inspection Group was transferred to the Labour Department I started work as a self employed consultant in the industry.
During the years I have been self-employed I have also worked part time at East Tamaki Quarry, the Railways Manukau Quarry and Bombay Quarry
All of those quarries apart from Manukau City’s ones are now closed. I am sure that has much more to do with me being older than it does with me having worked in them, but it still makes me wonder.
This fact of the closure of all of these quarries and many others around the country brings me to the association.
The AQA was originally proposed in 1969 under the name of the Aggregate Association which was changed in 1984 to the Aggregate and Quarry Association. As the representative body of quarry owners and aggregate producers, the AQA has been the advocate for its members with the Government and Regional and District Councils.
A consist advocacy push by the association over many years has been over the supply of rock resources to be addressed in the planning documents produced by all of these bodies. And when we look around the country at the number of existing quarries that are close to, or have already reached, the end of their resources this is rapidly becoming a critical issue.
One thing that has changed in quarrying operations is development of mobile plant and the industry has seen a mixture, in both small and large operations, of mobile machinery and plant in use with traditional jaw, gyratory, impact crushing or a combination of these.
The only major change to actual crushing systems has been the development of the Vertical Shaft Impact crushers using rock-on-rock crushing.
The introduction of the VSI into the crushing process has almost seen the demise of what was once one of the staples of secondary and tertiary crushing, the Hammermill.
In 1960 most quarries relied on what we would today consider to be small, front end loaders (Case W7/W9, Cat 922 etc.), rope shovels 22RB – 57RB etc.) and small dump trucks (Aveling Barford 350 etc.)
Today’s standard are front end loaders with a capacity of 4-6 cubic metres, dump trucks with up to 70 tonne capacity and Hydraulic shovels/backhoes up to 120 tonnes.
In 1960 the industry was regulated by the Ministry of Energy, under the 1944 Quarries Regulations which were upgraded in 1983.
In 1992 the Health and Safety in Employment Act was passed and with this Act the previous prescriptive 1983 Quarries Regulations were repealed and replaced by the requirement to ‘take all practicable steps to ensure safety’.
Then in 2013 the Health and Safety (Mining and Quarrying Operations) regulations were passed that set out the requirements for all mining and quarrying operations.
With all of these changes and with the more recent post-Pike River requirements for upgrading of Quarry Manager’s Certificates of Competency there has been a move for many of the small quarry operations to cease and for the larger operators to expand to service their client base.
In response to these political and regulatory changes the association made the move last year to share its new chief executive and resources with MInEx.
Not everyone in quarrying agrees with the idea of combining the advocacy strengths of the aggregate industry with the mining industry. Both are essentially extraction related and operate under many of the same regulations. It has been interesting to see the AQA take a a major role in the Mining Forum event over the past two years.
I personally believe the appointment of mining veteran Wayne Scott as its CEO allows the AQA to benefit from the close relationship between three organisations, MinEx, Straterra and the AQA.
The mining industry body (Straterra) is providing office support with Wayne remaining independent on policy and planning issues and reporting to the AQA Board on delivery of the AQA’s Business Plan.
The AQA says this arrangement means its CEO can continue to provide oversight to the huge range of important work on health and safety he has developed in his time at MinEx, while allowing him to devote significant time to the AQA.
A forever growing demand
Over the past 50 years since the inception of the Aggregate and Quarry Association nothing has changed in the demand and supply of aggregate to keep up with infrastructure growth and demand.
In 1960 we produced approximately 23 million tons of rock products and in 2017 we produced about 41.25million tonnes.
The total values of rock products produced from 1960-1972 and 2009-2017 are shown below and these figures show that the direct economic impact from quarry products alone is today, nearly $700 million dollars.
When you add in the indirect economic impacts from the quarrying industry such as the income generated by the industries that supply goods and services, and the effects of the spending as a result of incomes generated from the quarry industry, it can be seen that the quarry industry has an overall economic effect in the region of $2.5 billion.
Even though the industry is cyclical in relation to economic factors, one constant is that over any given extended period of time the industry production will have to increase in line with population and economic growth.
This is critical to the economic well-being of our nation and underlines the value of the association in representing the interest of the quarrying industry.