Rocla Sand Quarry Threat
Say No to Calga Sand Quarry
You can make a difference. Just add your voice!
Write to the Hon. Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Planning.
Send an Email to Director General (Planning) and the Minister for Planning. You can e-mail the Planning Minister by clicking here. If you use this link you will send an email to the Director General (Planning) and the Minister for Planning. A copy will be sent to us at Walkabout Park and we will do our best to follow up with the Planning Department to make sure they take your objection into account. You can write what you like in the email. Feel free to delete anything in the auto email that you don't want to say. You can cut and paste ideas from our website, or you can write your own message to the Minister.
You can help to ensure that Rocla's greed does not steal our aquifer and destroy our native wildlife, habitat, endangered plants and ecological communities such as hanging swamps, Aboriginal sites and the adjacent Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park.
URGENT: The NSW Government has closed consultation on this matter, but the Planning Department has told us that they will continue to take on board any submissions right up until the time Mr Hazzard makes his decision. The Planning and Advisory Commission panel sat on 18th November 2013, but they have not yet made their decision.
Sand Mining costs Sydney Tax Payers in profits siphoned off-shore and free water for big industry
While the good and the bad about coal mining commands the headlines, sand quarrying companies continue largely 'below the radar'. Coal is a labour intensive export resource, producing many jobs and bringing new money into Australia.
Sand quarrying, on the other hand, is highly efficient so creates very few jobs, and supplies the local market so just moves money around, and then out of the country to their non-Australian owners in the case of companies like Rocla (Fletcher New Zealand).
NSW Minerals Council Chief Nikki Williams explains about coal "God put the mineral resources where they are" so people don't have much choice where to mine coal. However, in the case of sand, God has given Australia so much and it is so widespread that people can choose where to mine it.
Yet the NSW government continues to approve new quarries and extensions to sand quarries in urban areas where sand mining companies choose to quarry sand to reduce their transport costs. In the case of Rocla NZ's Calga sand quarry, not only is the NSW government poised to approve this quarry, but a NSW government department, the RTA, actually sold the land to Rocla for this purpose!
The plan is to begin a new quarry on the newly purchased adjacent property, triple the size of "Calga Sands" on Sydney's northern outskirts, right in the middle of a rural town and right next door to Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park, Sydney's only fox-proof natural bush wildlife sanctuary, Aboriginal sites preserve, cultural and environmental education establishment and eco-tourism destination. 75,000 visitors take part in Walkabout Park programs each year. One of Walkabout Park's critical conservation programs is a one-of-a-kind breeding program cross-breeding wild and captive-bred koalas to bring diversity back into the depleted gene pool. Another is the 'breed for release' program helping to save Australia's iconic bilby.
If Rocla NZ goes ahead, NSW will lose this unique and valuable conservation and heritage asset. With the ensuing noise, dust and its health effects, water deprivation and destruction of the scenic landscape, Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park will not be able to continue to operate. Visitors won't visit, effectively cutting off Walkabout Park's only source of funding, forcing them to close. Rocla will also destroy significant Aboriginal sites on their own land including a rare women's site linked to a nearby birthing cave, and a Daramulan deity site.
Of even more wide-reaching consequence is the impact on Sydney's water and the cost to Sydney tax payers.
As with coal mining, the techniques employed for sand quarrying are not widely known. In Calga they actually manufacture, rather than mine, sand. Instead of scooping up sand, they crush the sandstone aquifer. With their existing and the extended operations, Rocla NZ will be crushing more than 2 million tonnes of rock to produce 1.4 million tonnes of sand every year. And they plan to be quarrying for 30 years. This particular quarry will create around 20 jobs and cause the loss of 30 jobs at Walkabout Park, a net loss to NSW. They argue that the quarry will also create secondary employment. True. But they will also destroy secondary employment. And the company's profits will be siphoned out of the country.
When it is all done they will leave a gaping hole in the ground around 25 meters deep and 36 hectares wide, with feebly growing trees and shrubs at the bottom and the 25 meter high sides bleeding water from the aquifer until it eventually runs dry. Which is where Sydney pays in perpetuity.
Rocla will pay nothing for the billions of litres of water that it will use each year until 2040. Sydney will have to make up the shortfall in Calga, Somersby and Gosford water needs with expensive water from desalination. All paid for by the Sydney tax payer.
Trustee, Walkabout Wildlife Conservation Foundation
Phone: (02) 43751100
Please don't let Rocla's greed...
- Take our water of which we already have inadequate supply, and cut 42 million tons of rock out of the aquifer so it can never recharge
- Wipe out the habitat of endangered animals known to live on the mine site, pushing them closer to extinction
- Destroy the almost extinct Darwinia glaucophyla, the only remaining stands of which grow on and around the mine site
- Quarry away some of the last hanging swamps, listed as critically endangered ecological communities
- Interfere with indigenous women's and other sites and their connection to each other and to neighbouring sites
- Rip sandstone into sand making deadly invisible dust which causes lung and kidney disease
We are not anti-sandmining. We know we need sand BUT we must be responsible about where we take our sand from! We've got so much sand, we don't need to crush up sandstone to manufacture it.
At Rocla's admission, there are lots of other sand deposits BUT Rocla wants to quarry Calga because it is on the F3 and only an hour from their Sydney market!
This is about corporate profits which we understand are important to the health of our economy BUT the cost to our environment of quarrying such a fragile area far outweighs the contribution Rocla will make to our economy!
Some arguments you may want to put to the Minister:
Destruction of the landscape and deadly lung diseases: Rocla intends to carve out up to 1.4 million tons of sandstone rock using rippers to make into 1 million tons of building sand EVERY YEAR for the next 30 years! Ripping sandstone into sand causes fine silica dust particles with jagged edges and too small to see, so small that they get into the deepest parts of your lungs and don't irritate you so you don't cough them out. These particles aggravate asthma. Less likely but very frightening is the fact that silica dust can even cause silicosis, just like asbestosis from asbestos, and similarly deadly!
Destruction of the aquifer and taking the last of our water: Rocla has admitted they will cut down into the aquifer, the porous rock that holds our only water source. It will never be able to recharge even after they stop quarrying. You can't plug a hole in a mountain! We already don't have enough water. Our bores are running dry. Rocla says they will "buy an existing allocation". But we need to bank unused water allocations because our aquifer is bleeding dry!
Endangered animals: Rocla says they have not been able to find any endangered animals on their site (although they do acknowledge having ideal habitat for certain species). Rocla's neighbours, Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park and Popran National Park both have many endangered species. It would be very odd if the animals did not cross the invisible boundary of the Rocla property. They MUST be there!
Endangered ecological environments: Rocla talks about the hanging swamps that they will destroy when they cut off their water supplies. They say that these show no surface water and therefore are either 'dead' or have aquired a drought tolerance so will be able to withstand losing their water supply for the duration of the mining activity. Just google "hanging swamps". Hanging swamps usually do not show any surface water. Their water supply is underground. And cutting off this flow will kill the swamps and all the plants and animals that depend on them!
Endangered endemic plants and the impossibility of rehabilitation: Rocla acknowledges they have the endemic and endangered plant Darwynia glaucophyla on their land. Darwynia g. only exists in this area within about a 20km radius. There is no other Darwynia g. ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!. Using "pseudo-science" language Rocla says that the Darwinia g., as well as the other endangered plants and even the hanging swamps, will recover after Rocla has devastated the land for decades. This is naive at best. Considering the qualifications of the scientists Rocla has paid who have made these statements, naivety is unlikely and this may instead be a blatant intent to mislead!
Indigenous women's and other sites, newly discovered and not yet assessed: Most important are the newly discovered indigenous women's sites no Rocla's land. They say they will protect them, but they would do so by intgerrupting their connection with each other, turning them into islands at the top of sandstone columns, and also isolating them from the other sites in Calga Peats Ridge and the surrounding districts to which they have spiritual connection. Representatives of the local indigenous community are concerned and the Calga Peats Ridge Community Group is working closely with them as we share the urgency to save these from legalised vandalism!