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Demand for aggregate continues to fall

Demand for aggregate continues to fall 29 June 2013

Demand and supply of our most critical building block – aggregate – has fallen for the fourth year in a row, from 46.35 million tonnes in 2007 to 25.81 million tonnes in 2011. Demand for this raw material is a sure indicator of the economic health of a nation as it is the key ingredient all forms of building and infrastructure.

As a rule of thumb, over half of the industry’s production is required for roading. It takes about 4,000 tonnes of aggregates in the construction of just one kilometre of standard highway pavement, while the building of a new six-lane motorway can consume in excess of 20,000 tonnes for the same distance. About a quarter of annual aggregates demand is for construction of residential and commercial/industrial buildings.

“The recession has hit us hard,” said AQA Chair Ben Hussey. “Like the rest of the economy, the quarrying industry is seeing some return to growth in Auckland and Christchurch, but the rest of the country is still sluggish.

“A low volume of aggregate speaks volumes about the state of the nation.”


Aggregate Facts

A strong economy and excellent quality of life are literally built on a foundation of aggregates. Aggregates touch our lives every day, from the driveway to the workplace. We drive, stand and walk on aggregates yet their importance to society is almost universally under estimated.

Without aggregates we would not have roads, railways, airports, schools, hospitals and other public buildings, clean water supplies, electrical power and a myriad of every day items such as glass and crockery. Without aggregates we would neither be able to maintain our existing vital infrastructural facilities nor would the built environment be able to expand enabling economic growth both regionally and nationally.
The facts
– in 2011, New Zealand produced 25.81 million tonnes of aggregates worth $438,835,658
– with an estimated population of 4,422,700, each New Zealander consumed 5.84 tonnes of aggregates during the year
– over half the aggregate produced is used on roads and a further 21% is used to construct commercial and residential buildings
– the economic benefit to our country (direct, indirect and induced) is $2.1 billion and approximately 10,000 jobs.

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Location and transport
For each tonne of aggregate produced, every 30 kilometres it has to
travel doubles the cost. (For more information see The Tyranny of Distance


Country Tonnes per person Tonnes per person
2010 2011
New Zealand7.25.84
United States10.0 6.4
Australia6.0 6.0
Europe6.2 5.1
Great Britain4.03.5

This fact sheet was prepared by the Aggregate & Quarry Association of New Zealand at

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