A Bungonia district quarry operation has granted neighbouring graziers access to data following accusations the facility was “sucking up” groundwater.
Phil and Diane Broadhead own 1600-acre cattle grazing property, ‘Inverary Park,’ adjoining the Ardmore Park quarry, 4km south of Bungonia.
Mrs Broadhead told a Progress Association meeting in the village on Monday night that flow in a spring running through their property had dropped from 28,000 to 30,000 litres/day in 2003, when quarry owners Multiquip started a chicken farm, to 7700 currently.
“It just happened to coincide with when the mine started extracting water from their production bore,” Mrs Broadhead said.
“We think their production is sucking water from our property because other bores are dropping too. It’s hard to prove but what else could it be?...We believe its only a matter of time until the mine runs out of water.”
Mrs Broadhead told the meeting the water was there for everyone and others shouldn’t have to suffer.
She questioned why Multiquip should have a 110 megalitre water licence allocation, with access to another 100Ml, when graziers such as them had their allocation cut and were struggling to manage.
Multiquip general manager Jason Mikosic replied that she too could apply for a licence like his company.
It earned a swift rebuke from Mr Broadhead who said if Multiquip used all of its permitted volumes, the company should be asking questions of the Department of Primary Industries.
“Don’t you think there might be a problem with water allocation on the Inverary plateau?” he said.
Later he told The Post that DPI should be consulting with them when a nearby allocation, like Multiquip’s, was doubled. The basalt country means the couple rely on the spring for stock and domestic use. Mr Broadhead said they couldn’t rely greatly on dams because they needed substantial runoff to fill, given the geology.
Last year Multiquip installed a device on the Broadheads’ property, to monitor spring flow. Mrs Broadhead said the couple had not been given gain access to this data, despite requests. However, the company has granted this in the past few days.
A consent conditions dictates that the quarry will supply the property with water if it runs out.
Mr Broadhead is a fifth generation grazier on the property.
Road impacts worry
But water was not the only thing on people’s mind at Monday’s meeting. The forum was called to discuss Multiquip Quarries’ bid to increase production from 400,000 to 580,000 tonnes annually, extend the extraction area by 3.5 hectares and increase truck numbers from 88 to a maximum 124 daily.
In addition, it wants to increase transportation hours to 5am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 5am to 5pm on Saturdays. Under the existing approval, Multiquip can only run trucks from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 1pm Saturday.
The company’s managing director Steve Mikosic said it was about “squaring off” the quarry, enabling the basalt to be more easily extracted. Multiquip says the application is asking for an increase in the maximum daily truck movements to take account of days on which they do less, and it won’t translate to more than the allowable 25,064 vehicles annually.
The increased volume could be achieved with no additional truck movements due to the use of Performance Based Standard (PBS) vehicles. They can carry up to 53 tonnes, as opposed to the current 30 to 33 tonnes.
But road impacts and the quality of work Multiquip had already undertaken on the haul route emerged as a major concern.
“How can you put your hand on your heart and say that running trucks from 5am to 10pm daily is safe?” one woman asked.
But Jason Mikosic said other quarries had similar operating times and Multiquip had to fit in with rules and regulations.
“We’re following them,” he said.
“Originally we looked at 24 hour (truck) operation but then we stepped back and said 5am to 10pm,” he said.
Resident and former civil engineer Laurie Brown accused the company of upgrading the haul road “on the cheap.”
“I question the compaction of the new material they’re putting in; they won’t get the density they need. They’re doing a bodgey job,” he told The Post.
Another resident, Bill Dobbie, who lives near the quarry, said a section of Oallen Ford Road had to be re-done because the road’s profile couldn’t accommodate the drainage.
“(But) most of the residents are pleased with the roadworks because the widening (along Oallen Ford and Jerrara Roads) has made it better,” he said.
“A lot are concerned that the work wouldn’t hold up because the road was never designed for these type of heavy vehicles.”
Multiquip is aiming to complete the haul route upgrade by mid-May. One side of Jerrara Road has been widened, save for 1.5km, but another 12km of the other side has to be completed. Some 3km of Oallen Ford Road also has to be widened. The company’s operations manager Steve Wall said bridges would be completed over the next two to five weeks.
Steve Mikosic conceded that some work had to re-done because there were “(water) springs” under the road that caused material to lift.
Asked by a resident how the roads’ longevity would be preserved, Jason Mikosic told the meeting that the modification would mean an extra $130,000 flowing to Goulburn Mulwaree Council in section 94 payments, on top of the current $450,000 annually. It was up to the council how this was spent, he said.
Multiquip has appointed a community liaison officer, Mick Rogers, who also attended the meeting. He fielded several complaints about truck drivers’ driver behaviour but pledged to follow them up.
The former RMS road safety auditor said he was more than happy for residents to contact him regarding complaints and reinforced that the company wanted to work closely with the community.
“We have a strict driver policy and Jason and Steve don’t have a problem sacking anyone who is unsafe,” he said.
The council is due to discuss Multiquip’s modification at its meeting on Tuesday.
Public submissions to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment are due by February 26.