INDUSTRY INSIDER | April 23, 2024

The Sands Of Time Are Running Out in New Zealand, Literally

Original Source: Aggregate & Quarry Association (New Zealand)

Auckland ran out of sand for construction before Christmas and the quarry industry head says urgent interim fixes are needed to avoid further shortfalls impacting building and roading projects across the upper North Island.

Aggregate & Quarry Association (AQA) CEO Wayne Scott says he’d written to the previous Government in March last year warning of a looming shortage of sand and seeking solutions.

“The sector has done a good job at trying to cover for shortfalls, particularly in Auckland and Waikato. One major supplier is ramping up manufactured sand supply to be more readily available from mid-year.

“Manufactured sand may well be a key to future supply but in the interim we urgently need to access traditional supplies which come off coasts and river mouths.

“As predicted, Auckland ran out of sand during the lead up to Christmas. Some concrete plants were simply unable to produce for their customers.”

Wayne Scott says Auckland has not yet reached the peak of demand that emerged late last year and caused some delays in concrete production for projects.

“We may also have a bit of softening happening in housing but infrastructure projects are ramping up and with that, demand for sand will continue to rise and shortages will see project delays.”

He says the Government’s recent outline of new fast-track legislation is welcome but even if sand extraction is among projects getting approval, this would still be many months away.

As well as being a key ingredient in the manufacture of concrete, sand is a bedding material for roads and pipes and has many other uses.

Wayne Scott says several factors are causing the shortage with a key one being delays in renewing resource consents for sand extracted off the coast north of Auckland which used to supply half the region’s construction sand requirements.

“Interim consenting now sees less than a third being provided.”

He says the new National Policy Statements on Highly Productive Land and Indigenous Biodiversity are also holding up resource consent applications for a number of potential sand extraction operations.

“Unless there is urgent action to allow resource consents to proceed and resolve issues relating to extraction off the coast near Mangawhai, construction projects across the upper North Island will suffer delays waiting for sand and concrete.”

Wayne Scott says he has been talking to Government officials about these issues for months but is now seeking an intervention from Ministers.

“This will impact across transport, infrastructure, economic development, housing and much more. We know this is not of the Government’s making but interim solutions are desperately needed. The quarry industry has done all it can to issue the warnings and meet the shortfall but it’s beyond us to resolve.”