Without well-managed quarries operating in our towns and cities, the cost of construction will become unaffordable for home owners and will stifle the delivery of infrastructure such as roads and hospitals.
Aspasa director Nico Pienaar (photo courtesy Aspasa).
Quarries are essential for the legal extraction of sands and aggregates used in the manufacture of concrete structures, as well as base and top courses of roads and ballast for railways. If for any reason the materials for these construction projects needs to be sourced from too far away (no more than 100 km) the cost of transport can become prohibitive and dramatically increases the price of building products.
Research has shown that the average South African citizen accounts for over 3,0 t of aggregates/person, which is calculated using the house that they live in, as well as streets and other infrastructure that they make use of during this period. This means that even if a person is not actively involved in the construction industry they still require that amount of material just to go about their daily lives.
In order to raise awareness of the importance of well-managed legal quarries nearby our towns, the
Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa (Aspasa) has embarked on an information campaign to educate residents of our towns and cities about the many uses of materials that are being taken from their local quarries.
All too often residents only see the negative side of quarrying, such as the use of heavy equipment on site, blasting or increased heavy vehicle traffic and get upset at the mere thought of having a ‘big, dirty quarry’ nearby. Little do most people know, however, that formal registered quarries belonging to the Association are far from being bad neighbours.
Aspasa director Nico Pienaar explains: “These legal quarries have to obtain mining, water usage and environmental permits and have to abide by the strictest regulations possible just to begin quarrying operations. Once in operation, they are heavily regulated (in terms of the impact on surrounding communities) and have to comply with the strictest possible regulations relating to noise, dust and water pollution among others. An additional benefit is the creation of direct and indirect jobs that are sustainable over a long period of time.
“Aspasa members also get involved in a host of community projects that are specially identified to benefit and uplift residents of surrounding communities. They usually encourage residents to get involved and to make use of areas that are suitable for activities such as bird watching, cycling, etc, in order to also make meaningful contributions to the residents’ lives.”
Pienaar believes that the aggregates and sand quarry industry has never been more responsible and committed to the communities it operates in. With the government’s commitment to building new homes and the rising population growth, a strong demand for infrastructure development is required and this needs to be supported by legal quarry operations in every town and city.
He encourages residents to remain vigilant and report quarries that are not being responsible as they may be illegal operations that operate outside of all laws of the country. These operators sometimes operate quarries and borrow pits that cause severe damage to the surrounds and rather than creating sustainable work for residents, they often exploit workers and scar the environment.
“If residents suspect that quarrying is being carried out in a manner that is harmful or if they suspect that a quarry (or borrow pit) is being illegally operated, we strongly encourage them to contact Aspasa, as well as their local police and Department of Mineral Resources offices.
“Rather than single-mindedly opposing quarrying in our towns and cities, Aspasa encourages residents to work with our legal quarry operators to ensure these quarries are operated in a way that is acceptable to all. They should also provide active input on how the quarry is rehabilitated and possibly look at using the quarry as a dam, park, shopping mall or other type of land use when the quarrying operations cease,” Pienaar adds.