Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Sand Mining

A June 2005 draft sand mining strategy by the Department of Planning plans targeted Newnes Plateau for investigation as a source of Sydney's sand for the next 30 years. Quarrying in indifferent surroundings is not objectionable, but large-scale surface mining is intolerable on Newnes Plateau, particularly as the industry has difficulty keeping to established environmental safeguards, such as ensuring its discharge waters are clean of sediment. Sand mining requires the complete removal of the natural environment due to clearing and wholesale removal of the landscape. Road works, soil erosion, stream siltation and vehicle pollution extend this destruction beyond the immediate extraction site. Four operations have consent to quarry sand on Newnes Plateau: Boral Resources, Kables Sands (Pioneer Concrete), ROCLA Quarries and Sydney Construction Materials. Of these, ROCLA has virtually exhausted its lease area, Kables Sands has received in 2007 a 20 metre depth extension for its existing site and Boral Resources is not operational. Approximately 310,000 tonnes of sand per year are currently being quarried from the ROCLA and Kables operations. The million tonne a year Sydney Construction Materials mine adjoins the World Heritage Area was apprved in 2007 and there is another proposed sand mining site in bushland on the Western Escarpment south-east of Clarence Village. Local and state environment groups oppose surface mining within this park proposal due to the significant and non-reversible damage caused. Many sites around Sydney contain sand resources, and of these the Newnes Plateau on the watershed between the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and the headwaters of Sydney’s water supply catchment would be one of the least suitable places for development of a sand mining district. If the mining strategy is adopted, a visually intrusive, polluting, noisy, dusty blight will be imposed on one of the most botanically diverse areas around Sydney.

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