Amended Karuah South Quarry development on exhibition

The proposed site for the amended Karuah South Quarry application is marked in red.

AN amended State Significant Development proposal to develop and operate a hard rock quarry approximately four kilometres north east of Karuah is on exhibition until November 6.

The proponent of the proposed Karuah South Quarry, Wedgerock PTY, seeks to extract hard rock resources from a single extraction area covering up to approximately 7.6 hectares (ha), producing up to 600,000 tonnes per annum of quarry products for around 25 years.

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The total project site is close to 27 ha.

According to the proponent, the project would utilise conventional drill and blast, load and haul and processing methods to produce aggregates, pavement products, manufactured sand, select fill and other products.

Plans for the Karuah South Quarry were initially put forward in 2019, however potential environmental issues delayed the project.

“In 2019, I submitted a development application for a State Significant Development through the Department of Planning to quarry the front of my property,” Michael Kiely, the owner of Wedgerock PTY, told News Of The Area.

That project was located directly to the south of the existing Karuah Quarry and to the southwest of Karuah East Quarry.

54 initial submissions were received.

Among other community groups, EcoNetwork Port Stephens opposed the project at that time, citing potential sediment discharge issues in relation to Yalimbah Creek, which flows directly into the Karuah River.

The Port Stephens Branch of NSW Farmers and the Port Stephens Shellfish Program also opposed the project, claiming a lack of consultation between the proponent and the region’s prominent oyster industry.

In September 2023, an amended development application was submitted, with plans to relocate the project to the extraction area floor of the existing Karuah Quarry, with extraction activities at that operation expected to cease in the near future.

As a result, a smaller extraction area is now proposed in order to mitigate visual impacts and increase the separation distance from the operation to the Pacific Highway.

The project’s surface water management system has also been redesigned to account for the larger catchment area being used for the development and to capture and store water for on-site use while permitting occasional discharge of water of suitable quality.

“We have reduced the environmental impact by 40 percent,” Mr Kiely told News Of The Area.

A development report compiled by R.W. Corkery & Co, on behalf of the proponent, states that the “importance of environmental flows to the Yalimbah Creek system has also been recognised in the design of the site”.

“The amended project is a largely closed catchment and water storage dams have been designed and positioned to collect runoff from disturbed catchments, provide storage and where needed discharge.

“These areas have been separated from the south of the property to preserve the hydrologic function in receiving waters.

“The Applicant has also been mindful of previously identified concerns raised by oyster farmers with the Karuah River regarding water quality of discharge.

“The site design ensures that, to the greatest extent possible, environmental flows would be retained and water quality remain acceptable.”

The site is located between two existing quarries and the Pacific Highway, which the proponent states will “limit land use conflicts and build upon the existing successful extractive industry development that has been supplying essential construction materials for over twenty years”.

“Considering the pending closure of the Karuah Quarry, the project would effectively replace the production capacity of that operation, albeit with both extraction and processing in slightly different locations,” the amended development report states.

“Given the close proximity of these two operations it may be considered that the project effectively extends the production capacity of the land for a further 25 years.”

The project is located in a strategic hard rock resource precinct that has been selected for historic development due to the high quality of the material to be extracted and location adjacent to the Pacific Highway.

The pending closure of the Karuah Quarry would remove up to 500,000 tonnes per annum of supply from the market.
Mr Kiely said the Karuah South project would employ around fifteen people.

EcoNetwork Port Stephens President Iain Watt said while the amended proposal was an improvement on the 2019 plan, it still “falls well short on offering benefits to the long-term liveability and sustainability of our coastal region”.

“On one hand the new quarry proposal has redesigned the site layout so that around 4ha of vegetation can be retained.

“However, it has introduced new ancillary activities that will increase heavy traffic movements, create more noise and dust, and use diesel fuels for operations and machinery.

“The surrounding vegetation will only effectively serve as a visual screening for road frontages, and it is incorporated into their flyrock zone.”

Mr Watt also questioned the necessity of another quarry in the Karuah area given existing operations in the close proximity and others in the planning stage.

“The proponents have not justified why Karuah South Quarry is warranted above any other existing operational quarry in our region, including their neighbour Karuah East Quarry, which has been approved for operation to 2054.

“NSW and Federal government reports show there is no current shortfall of quarry materials and there won’t be until around the mid-2030s if today’s quarry capacity is not systematically replaced.

“The Karuah South Quarry will potentially add another 250+ heavy vehicles to the already proposed increase of quarry vehicles using the Tarean Road access to the Highway.

“If all the proposed quarries in our area go ahead we’re likely to see well over 1,000 heavy vehicles using that exit to travel south on the highway.

“Karuah South Quarry will add to that count.”

The amended Karuah South Quarry proposal is on exhibition on the NSW Planning Portal

For more information or to make a submission, visit

Due to a recent amendment to State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011 the consent authority for this project is now the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces.

The Minister returned delegated determination of the project to the Department.


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