Quarrying faces some of the toughest environmental control regimes of any industry. That’s in part because while New Zealanders need and use huge volumes of aggregate they often oppose quarries, especially in urban or semi-urban areas. And yet, quarries are not the noisy or dirty neighbours many people perceive. After the first 30km that aggregate needs to be trucked, it then doubles its cost - and costs continue to rise for every further km travelled.
The New Zealand aggregate industry, led by AQA members, has done work over recent years to minimise the impact of quarrying on the environment and on neighbours. The Resource Management Act transformed how quarries are both consented and operated, allowing greater public participation in the planning process and requiring an integrated approach to managing effects.
Common requirements include detailed environmental impact assessments, investment in more technically advanced equipment, extensive landscaping and screen planting, strict limits on noise and dust and even new roads to overcome traffic problems. Rehabilitation plans are now usually required. Former quarries often become parks, wetlands or recreational facilities. Mt Smart stadium – sited on a former quarry – is one of many examples of a former quarry restored for community use.
The AQA is committed to encouraging its members to minimise environmental impact while promoting continual improvement in sustainable environmental performance. The AQA endorse the recycling of concrete and aggregates as environmentally and financially responsible use of New Zealand's resources.
Aggregates are the most consumed bulk product in the world after water. New Zealand uses 9-10 tonnes of aggregate every year for each adult and child.
To build an average house, you need about 250 tonnes of aggregate - for use in concrete, asphalt, mortar and building products.
The quarry industry is committed to working alongside local communities and follows stringent planning, environmental and operating conditions.