HILLVIEW Quarries says it wants to reopen the old Pioneer quarry in Boundary Rd, Dromana, claiming it is running out of rock at its existing pit, which was started less than two years ago.
Hillview CEO Paul Nitas has written to residents living near the old quarry and stated Hillview’s existing quarry off Hillview Quarry Drive had been operating for nearly 50 years “and its resource is diminishing”.
“While the Boundary Road site [Pioneer] has not been actively quarried in recent years, we know the site has significant reserves,” he stated.
The site has not been quarried for almost 20 years.
Mr Nitas stated restarting quarrying “would allow Hillview to continue to operate on the Mornington Peninsula, providing employment to around 35 people as well as supporting many local businesses”.
He stated Hillview had “begun preliminary discussions with the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council about recommencing quarrying on the Boundary Road site”.
The old Pioneer quarry was the one that Peninsula Waste Management Pty Ltd wanted to use for a rubbish tip, which was refused by the EPA two years ago. The plan was supported by Mornington Peninsula Shire. R E Ross Trust owns both Hillview and PWM.
Hillview/Ross Trust bought the old Pioneer quarry in 1998 for $1.24 million. It had already been earmarked as a potential rubbish tip site.
Pioneer had bought it in the early 1960s and took about 300,000 tonnes of granite over 35 years before closing the quarry in 1998 when it reached the limit of its licence. The bottom of the pit was well below the water table and is now about 42 metres deep.
Hillview/Ross Trust owns 121 Boundary Rd, the old Pioneer quarry, which is 18 hectares.
It owns another block of almost 65 hectares, 115 Boundary Rd, which wraps around three sides of the Pioneer quarry with the fourth side being Arthurs Seat State Park.
If Hillview starts a new pit, it will have to either transport rock to its crusher at the Hillview Quarry Drive site or build one near the new pit. It would also need a weigh station, staff quarters and other infrastructure.
Hillview’s move to start a second quarry follows the opening of a new pit at the Hillview Quarry Drive site early last year (“Hillview’s new quarry”, The News, 25/3/14).
In January 2006 the company won permission from the shire council to open the new area. It is southwest of the main pit and closer to Arthurs Seat Rd. It was formerly the site of Hillview’s magazine, where explosives were stored.
Hillview has permission to extract 2.6 million tonnes of brown stone and 11.4 million tonnes of grey stone from the new area. The company extracts about 650,000 tonnes of high-quality aggregate and crushed rock each year.
The company says quarrying at Hillview’s site on Arthurs Seat escarpment has occurred for about 90 years.
“R E Ross formed Hillview Quarries Pty Ltd in 1968 and shortly after acquired T W Maw and Sons Pty Ltd, which operated small quarries on the site,” Hillview’s website states.
“Hillview and Maw formed a partnership to develop the site into a modern quarry operation, transforming the site from its seven small separate quarries to a single … operation and manufacturing plant.
“After some early disruptions due to clearing and permit challenges, Hillview reopened in 1971 with a new crushing plant and work plans that allowed the site to be opened up with modern quarrying practices.”
A new crushing plant was built in 2006.
In his recent letter, Mr Nitas stated Hillview would keep residents “informed as we progress”. “Please be assured that Hillview will seek your views on our plans, and formal opportunities will exist to provide feedback as the plans develop,” he stated.
Mark Fancett, president of Peninsula Preservation Group, the citizen lobby group formed in 2013 to oppose the quarry tip plan, said the new pit would likely be in pristine bush. “There’s degraded land at the Boundary Rd end of the block but higher up the slope is good native vegetation and quarries are always started at the top,” he said.
Dr Fancett said if the quarry went ahead there would be four huge holes on Arthurs Seat, two of the existing three 100 metres deep. “The question has to be asked: where do you draw the line? The peninsula’s main industry is tourism. Is it appropriate in 2015 to create another quarry next to a state park?”
Senior shire planner Niall Sheehy said he’d had “preliminary discussions with Paul Nitas of Hillview Quarries concerning the former Pioneer site off Boundary Rd. These discussions have been of a general nature concerning the site’s history and possible future opportunities for stone extraction”.
“Hillview has indicated that the reserves within the former Pioneer site have yet to be exhausted.
“Should discussions progress and a planning application be lodged, the shire will satisfy its statutory obligations and provide notice to potentially affected parties. It is also the shire’s understanding that Hillview has made a commitment to keep residents informed of any progress.”
Hillview CEO Paul Nitas has been contacted for comment.