The quarry industry united again after last year’s pandemic hiatus and the 2021 QuarryNZ conference attracted over 450 delegates, partners and trade exhibitors.
Wellington gave us its worse weather, freezing on the first day and gale force winds and rain on the second day, and the concrete stadium venue, which shuddered with every gust, had all the charm of a desecrated mausoleum – but the networking vibe was there in full force. So were the quality presenters and a full trade hall exhibition.
The keynote speaker was Infrastructure Commission CEO Ross Copland who provided insights into how quarries fit into the Government’s plans to rebuild our economy on infrastructure (and farming).
Skilfully held together by veteran MC Steve Davis we saw the launch of the work that GNS Science has been doing (with AQA input) on aggregate maps – and a session on how to maximise the value you get from the digital data that is transforming the industrial minerals sector.
Janet Lane, CEO of our ITO, updated training and skills reforms and WorkSafe’s chief inspector Paul Hunt walked us through his agency’s widening scope on health and safety, and Murray Francis from Road Metals presented challenges to the ECAN and the Infrastructure Commission in a last day panel discussion.
The awards night, sponsored by TransDiesel, at Te Papa, was simply brilliant, from the catering to the presentations and the cool jazz band that left plenty of sound space for networking conversation post the awards.
Crunch time for quarry supply
A main theme at the 2021 QuarryNZ Conference in Wellington was the escalating demand for aggregate in the face of a dwindling supply.
AQA chief Wayne Scott says you don’t need an economics degree to work out that Kiwis soon face steeply rising prices for the foundations of every building and road. “For years we’ve talked about the risk to New Zealand of virtually no new quarries being approved and crunch time is now here.”
Wayne says billions of dollars of new Government infrastructure projects are now adding demand to a rampant housing market. “We’ve got little new supply coming through because getting a resource consent for a new quarry is up there with winning Lotto. Existing quarries have ramped up production, but many are approaching the end of their lives.”
He says successive Governments have been warned that the lack of new quarries and difficulties getting renewals or extensions would lead to supply shortfalls and steep price rises. “The current Government has established the Infrastructure Commission to look at such issues and we know the Commission is aware how critical things are becoming and so advising. The bigger question is whether the Government will act quickly enough to stop its road, infrastructure and housing programmes from facing savage price increases in base materials as demand totally outstrips supply.”