Quarry operator fined $630,000 for breaches of the Water Act 2000
A western Queensland quarry operator pleaded guilty to various charges in the Queensland Magistrates Court today and was fined $630,000 in total and ordered to pay $66,358.90 in royalties plus court costs.
The quarry operator breached the Water Act 2000 with an unauthorised take of quarry materials, non-compliance with the conditions of a Quarry Material Allocation Notice (QMAN) and providing false and misleading information to the State regarding the volume of materials taken.
Removal of riverine quarry material in Queensland is permitted with a QMAN and a Development Approval. Depending on the amount of material to be removed an Environmental Authority may also be required.
The quarry operator was granted a QMAN licence to take material (soil and rocks) from a non-tidal riverine area (dry creek bed).
QMANs contain conditions for the sustainable removal of quarrying materials. These conditions relate to the volume of materials that can be removed each year during the life of the allocation and also provide for protection of the bed and banks and in-stream vegetation to maintain the integrity of the water course while the quarrying activity is conducted.
The department monitors this type of work across the state to ensure operators are complying with the requirements of the sustainable removal of quarry materials.
When the quarry operator removed material significantly in excess of that permitted by the licence, the department investigated and commenced proceedings against the operator.
Quarry operators pay royalties to the State on the volume of the materials they remove.
DRDMW has an auditing program to ensure people taking quarry materials are complying with their obligations. The department is investing in new tools to remotely detect unauthorised quarrying activities.
Unauthorised take of quarry materials is an offence under the Water Act 2000. Operators undertaking quarry activities under a QMAN also need to ensure they comply with the conditions and reporting requirements of their QMAN. Non-compliance with these conditions is also an offence under the legislation.
Most of the regulated users audited each year are found to be working within and complying with the conditions of their authorities.
DRDMW’s regulatory approach is to educate, guide and inform the regulated community to achieve compliance.
When serious breaches like this occur, the department has a range of tools at its disposal to deal with serious non-compliance and will act when it is appropriate and proportionate to do so.
Quotes attributable to DRDMW Acting Deputy Director-General Jarrod Cowley-Grimmond
“The department launched an investigation after we received information that suggested a significant volume of material was removed with no regard to protecting the water course.
“Our investigation found a significant amount of quarry materials had been taken from outside the area authorised by the QMAN and that the operator showed little regard for the water course protection conditions contained within the QMAN which provide for the sustainable access to the State’s resources within the watercourse,” Mr Cowley-Grimmond said.
“In addition, it was also found that the Operator had provided false information to the State regarding the volume of material that was removed from the site which was more than three times that authorised.”
Explainer/fast fact and or further information:
Quarry operators in Queensland can access state owned non-tidal riverine quarry materials, provided conditions are met that include maintaining the integrity of the water course as well as vegetation along the water course. These activities are authorised and regulated by DRDMW.
Non-tidal riverine quarrying activities are carried out across the entire state.
Last updated: 09 Oct 2023