By Jess Baker
Southern Downs Regional Council has received an application to mine nearly half a million tonnes of clay at Pikedale for Granite Belt Water’s Emu Swamp Dam project.
The proposed development would operate for two to three years, and would help to form a 24-metre-high rock-filled clay-core dam wall on the Severn River between Fletcher Road and Emu Swamp Road.
Applicant South Queensland Lime Pty Ltd, a Gore-based producer of limestone products, engaged Groundwork Plus Pty Ltd to prepare a development application for the mining project to the council, which was submitted earlier this month.
It was proposed a temporary clay extraction pit would be established on a rural property located on Pikedale Lane at Pikedale, 50 kilometres north-west of the proposed Emu Swamp Dam site.
The clay pit project planning report submitted to the council stated the Granite Belt Irrigation Project (Emu Swamp Dam project) was the subject of a successful Environmental Impact Statement, which identified quarry and sand extraction areas within the dam inundation area.
“However, it was determined that the required volume of clay resource, to construct the embankment dam, would need to be sourced from outside the inundation area,” the report read.
“While the tender for the project is yet to be finalised, it is understood that approximately 450,000 tonnes of clay will be required for the (Granite Belt Irrigation Project).”
The report stated that there is “an obvious financial benefit” for the project to source materials with close proximity to the dam, as the cost of transporting material “contributes greatly to the overall cost of delivered product”.
It is understood the clay would be transported by truck to the dam site.
The landowner of the 964-acre portion of the lot proposed to be used for a clay extraction pit is identified in the planning report as LCP Terrica Pty Ltd.
The owner’s consent submitted with the development application was signed by William Lempriere and Stirling McGregor. Both were listed as directors of the company.
The planning report stated the Granite Belt Irrigation Project was expected to commence in 2022, so the clay extraction project would likely continue until 2024 to 2025.
Only two weeks ago, a spokeswoman for Emu Swamp Dam project proponent Granite Belt Water told Warwick and Stanthorpe Today construction of the dam was still on track to begin in 2021.
South Queensland Lime Pty Ltd’s application consisted of a request for a Development Permit for Extractive Industry, a Development Permit for Concurrence Environmentally Relevant Activity for clay extraction and an Environmental Authority for Environmentally Relevant Activity to enable clay extraction and screening.
The application is ‘impact assessable’ which, according to the planning report, means it must be assessed against the entirety of the Planning Scheme.
The decision to approve or reject the application is expected to be brought to a SDRC ordinary meeting in the coming months.