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Rock Ready To Roll Under New Minerals Strategy

Quarries delivering rock, aggregate and sand - already by far the nation’s largest mineral producers - will be amongst the first to benefit from the sector’s new strategy.

Resources Minister Shane Jones today announced a Draft Minerals Strategy to use the resources under the earth to enhance prosperity for New Zealanders.

Wayne Scott, who heads the Aggregate & Quarry Association says the strategy’s first action is to fund GNS Science to complete a detailed stocktake of New Zealand’s known mineral potential.

"We’ve been calling for this for more than six years. It will build on work we started with GNS in 2018 in Ōpōtiki, which showed the benefit of identifying and using local rock resources."

He says when the town’s proposed harbour development looked to truck in rock from the nearest existing quarries 100km away, the projected cost doubled.

"Finding local rock supplies helped make the project viable. Such benefits can become available around the country once GNS completes its identification of aggregate potential stocktake, which will principally identify viable rock and sand resources in each region."

"As it happens, Minister Jones announcement comes as the Infrastructure Commission prepares to unveil work it had commissioned for some regions of New Zealand."

GNS has identified potential areas for aggregate extraction close to four high-growth areas; Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Queenstown/central Otago. This work will be released early next month.

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Wayne Scott says cities and regions must not only plan where they’ll grow, but also where to get the materials needed to support their growth.

"We Kiwis each see around a kilogramme an hour of sand, rock and gravel aggregates used on our behalf for our roads and buildings. The big cost in dollars and carbon emissions is transport, so these resources are best quarried close to where they’re used."

"It’s good to see Minister Jones acknowledge such things as Auckland is already facing critical shortages of aggregates; that’s not due to our major city running out of rock but too much of it having been roped off."

He has also welcomed the Draft Mineral Strategy’s commitment to have annual benchmarks of quarries and mines to assess if health, safety and environmental outcomes are improving.

"The extractive sector is committed to safe and sound work practices and expects to see improvements, not reductions in how we look after people and the environment.

"We may create holes in the ground as we meet Kiwis’ needs for the bedrock of all roads and buildings, but these are managed under strict environmental standards and often end up as community assets by way of landfills, lakes and parks.

"This new strategy reflects that win-win approach and quarries are happy to have their trucks as the first to be ready to roll and provide benefit," says Wayne Scott.

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