News

The Future is Just Below the Surface

The Quarrying Industry plays an integral role in supporting many other Australian industries that play a vital role in the national economy. Construction industries and public infrastructure rely on the mineral materials to develop our built environment.

With such an important role in Australia, what will shape the future of the quarrying Industry beyond 2015?

Expectations regarding safe and sustainable practice are at the forefront of both community concerns and the prosperity of the industry itself.

This will include the environmental impacts of mineral extraction, health and safety of those employed in this sector as well as the effective integration of industry and community with regard to minimising the overall impact and supporting future economic growth.

There is no doubt that the value of our natural resources is a vital asset for Australia’s future. What we need is the most effective regulatory policies to ensure that we have the ability to continue growing our country from the ground up. Hunter Quarries remains dedicated to pursuing the best sustainable practices to ensure we can all enjoy a better future.

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NSW govt. announces millions for local roads

After concerns local roads will not cope with the extra traffic when the Hunter Expressway opens in the coming months, the state government has allocated several million dollars for improvements.

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has this week started upgrading sections of the New England Highway to cater for increased traffic from the $1.7 billion project.

It includes resurfacing the highway at Singleton Heights, Ardglen and Muswellbrook.

RMS says the $5 million project includes widening the highway and changing the layout of the lanes to improve road safety and traffic flow.

Other work will include Buchanan Road at Cessnock.

Concerns have been been raised about local roads in towns close to the expressway that are already under stress, such as Heddon Greta, where more than 1,800 new homes will be built.

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Ancient rock formation found beneath Nullabor

Ancient rock formation found beneath Nullabor

A geological survey of Western Australia has revealed relatively young Mesoproterozoic bedrock lies beneath the Nullabor.

The Mesoproterozoic Era is a geologic era that occurred from 1,600 to 1,000 million years ago. The Mesoproterozoic was the first period of Earth’s history of which a reliable geological record exists.

The bedrocks lies between two older formations – WA’s Yilgarn Craton and South Australia’s Gawler Craton, both former tectonic plates.

According to a report by ScienceNetwork WA, the seismic survey was conducted in February with geologists intending to study the structure of the Australia’s crust.

The interstate seismic survey has revealed the unique rock formation beneath the ground that may not exist anywhere else in Australia.

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What is Dense Graded Base?

Dense graded base or DGB for short, is a mechanically crushed rock aggregate. The particle size distribution is engineered so that when compacted, the resulting voids between the aggregate particles, expressed as a percentage of the total space occupied by the material, are very small.

In a nutshell you get a well graded mix of coarse and fine rock to enable a super compact base material.

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Training drought sparks skills fear

Employers fear skills shortages will emerge in the building industry within 12 months as the number of people taking apprenticeships slumps.

Tight business conditions and an emphasis on going to university ahead of training for a trade is being blamed for a fall of nearly 13 per cent in the overall number of people doing apprenticeships.

Master Builders Association chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch said the number of construction apprentices in training had fallen to fewer than 44,000.

“This is less than half the number needed to meet the industry’s ongoing skilled workforce requirements, a problem that will be exacerbated as demand increases,” Mr Harnisch said.

He called for a new model to revive the apprenticeship brand “to overcome community perceptions that a trade is inferior to a tertiary qualification, recognise apprenticeships are an investment in the future of the young person as well as the business, and include mentoring to boost the numbers seeing their apprenticeships through and emerging with a qualification”.

The most recent figures show apprenticeship commencements fell 25.9 per cent last year, with the number of under-19s starting an apprenticeship falling from 117,000 in 2008 to 85,000 last year.

Mr Harnisch said with forecasts of strong demand in residential and commercial construction, skills shortages would again emerge, especially in trades such as bricklaying.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Kate Carnell said one of the problems was that government support for apprenticeships had been reduced over several years.

She said many industries were concerned about skills shortages as the economy improved.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the government was moving to streamline the regulation of the apprenticeships ­system.

He said the government’s $20,000 trade support loan was also designed to boost the number of apprentices and the 20 per cent discount on obtaining the qualification was designed to boost completion rates.

Sid Maher
The Australian, June 14, 2014

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Industry turns to manufactured sand

Industry turns to manufactured sand

Quarrying and aggregate industries are employing the use of manufactured sand to address the decline in availability of natural sand resources for the production of ready mix and pre mixed concrete.

Depleted reserves, extraction and transportation costs, environmental restrictions and smaller pit location opportunities have all contributed to shortages of the natural resource.

Although the industry has embraced the move, factors of most interest to concrete suppliers are compliance with local regulations and consistency of product.

The Singapore Concrete Institute found that concrete mix using manufactured sand up to 100% is able to be a workable concrete mix without compromising properties of fresh hardened concrete.

The Singapore Institute reports that manufactured sand is being used increasingly as a fine aggregate in concrete production.

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Constructive Month for Construction Sector

Australian Industry Group chief economist Julie Toth has said that, “The construction sector is closer to stabilisation than at any time since mid-2010”. She has noted the housing and apartment sectors are performing better due to lower interest rates and higher buyer sentiment. She also said declines in commercial and engineering construction moderated during September.

This positive outlook came off the back of some positive news for the battling national Australian Construction Sector. Over the month of September the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index rose 3.9 points to 47.6. This followed a return to growth in the house building and apartment building sub-sectors.

The result still pegs the sector below the 50-point level separating expansion from contraction, but is the highest peak since May 2010. The main contributor to the index growth was the apartment building index, which turned around 40 months of consecutive decline into a 20 point increase.

September also saw the NAB Business Confidence index rise, and a distinct uptick in the Westpac Survey of Construction.

“Despite these encouraging trends, it is clear that the industry continues to face a tough operating environment with impediments such as tight credit conditions and a lack of public sector building activity continuing to weigh on overall activity,” Toth said.

“Nevertheless, with new orders increasing for the first time since May 2010, there are grounds for cautious optimism about the current improving trend.”

Across the sub-sectors, house building recorded its strongest reading since May 2010 (61.5) while apartment construction (57.7) ended 40 months of declining activity. The rate of decline in commercial construction (43.7) moderated while engineering construction (49.0) was close to stabilising in the month.

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Biofuel By-Products Used to Bolster Concrete

Researchers from the University of Kansas are using recycled by-products from the production of biofuel in order to increase the strength and durability of concrete.

Civil engineers found that lacing concrete with 20 per cent lignin, a byproduct of cellulose materials created when producing biofuels, triggered a chemical reaction that created a material 30 per cent tougher than traditional concrete.

Seven billion cubic metres of concrete are used in the construction industry worldwide annually.

Finding a viable and sustainable alternative for its core component cement could have widespread implications for the future of construction.

The Australian cement industry has lowered its CO2 emissions by 23 per cent between 1991 and 2009.

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University manufactures sand from crusher dust: Study

Research conducted by the engineering department of Cardiff University in the UK has proved high quality sand can be produced from surplus crusher dust and used as a replacement for natural sand.

The department manufactured sands from crusher dusts with at least four gradings from each quarry, including basalt, granite, sandstone and limestone.

According to the research, all artificial sands, regardless of original material, are able to produce similar particle size distribution, making sand produced from crusher dust a more environmentally friendly option for construction that traditional sand.

The research also yielded some workable concretes that required a higher water to cement ratio than traditional aggregates.

Growing stockpiles of waste crusher dust in quarries is a substantial environmental concern for those in the industry.

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Uses of crusher dust

Uses of crusher dust

Crusher dust is a common by-product of mining and quarrying. Rather than being discarded as a waste material however, recycled crusher dust has many practical applications around the home and in construction.

Using crusher dust in lieu of other materials can have resounding environmental and economical benefits. With fine particles like soft sand, crusher dust can be used as a cost-effective filling and packing material around water tanks; blended with natural sands to improve concrete shrinkage and water demand; and as a material to back-fill trenches with. It can also be used as a concrete aggregate used to create distinctive textures and as a substitute for concrete when creating pathways and driveways.

The production costs of crusher dust are relatively low compared to other building materials. Crusher dusts use less water than other alternatives and have excellent load bearing capabilities and durability. Crusher dust is fire and heat resistant; non-plastic; and alkaline when exposed to moisture, making it an ideal material to use in construction.

Crusher dusts also have applications in horticulture as a natural fertiliser. Crusher dusts contain minerals that are insoluble to water, which makes it an ideal material to stop mineral leaching in soils; to reduce water logging; and to raise the pH levels of the soil. Using crusher dusts in horticulture can also aerate the soil and facilitate root growth.

For more information about how you can use crusher dust as a substitute for other materials, contact Hunter Quarries on 02 4997 5966.

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