Quarrying & Mining Magazine

The advantage of reliable production data

Andy Loader, First Rock Consultancy. 

 We in the extractive industries understand the vital need for aggregates; with the average usage being approximately eight to 10 tonnes per head of population per year. 

Yet, we have been our own worst enemies in some ways, with our reluctance to give out information on production from our quarries. 

As a result of the legislative changes with the HSE Act, the requirement for all quarries and mines to report their production figures annually was removed. 

The reported production figures up until then had been publicly available through the annual mine statements produced by the Ministry of Commerce. These statements detailed the quantities of the various categories of aggregates produced across different areas of our country. 

But, following the passing of the HSE Act in 1992 and the repeal of the Quarries and Tunnels Act, the reporting of production was on a voluntary basis. The lack of a credible set of data detailing the production meant that there are no reliable figures that will help us illustrate and use to push the essential need for aggregates. 

Our industry is infamous for being the victim of drawn-out processes to gain consents for new quarries and renewals, and in cases the consents have been refused. The lack of data to prove a ‘need’ for a quarry has, in some circumstances, made a huge difference to the outcome of the consent application process. 

The lack of a reliable data set on the production of aggregates also impacted the ability to justify the need to protect existing quarries from residential encroachment. 

An opportunity 

Recent changes to the regulations around quarrying have reinstated the requirement for reporting of production from mines and quarries on a quarterly basis. 

This will provide a reliable data set of production figures for the various aggregate categories and provide facts that will allow us to lobby local authorities for an adequate level of protection for existing quarries. 

It will also allow local body planners to accurately identify the quantity of aggregate resources that will be required in any given region/area when they are planning the development of residential and commercial properties and identify where local aggregate resources are going to come from, and the impact on roading networks that could result from the increase of transported aggregates. 

The data produced will also allow the industry to identify the quantities that will be used in any given area on an average yearly basis and prove the viability of any new quarry development. This will be in addition to the currently available production from existing quarries. 

It is a simple matter to add up the expected requirements using average usage figures multiplied by the expected increase in population for any given area (i.e., for every extra 1000 residents in an area an extra 8000-10,000 tonnes of aggregates per year will be required). 

We all know that we can only produce a supply of quality aggregates from a quality rock resource, and this is only found where nature has put it. 

Therefore, we need to protect the currently producing deposits from encroachment by residential or commercial developments; the use of this data set in production from our quarries is an important tool we can use to do so. 

I urge all operators to ensure they are reporting their production as required by the new regulations to protect themselves from enforcement activity but also for the benefit of our essential industry as a whole.

Related posts

Why I look forward to greener generation

Contrafed Publishing

It’s land and its wet but is it a wetland?


Getting real about conservation estate

Quarry Mining Mag