Holcim restoration rewarded

Cement producer Holcim has won an environmental excellence award for more than 20 years work rehabilitating the quarry supplying lime to its cement factory at Cape Foulwind, near Westport

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Morgan Williams, and Institute of Professional Engineers President, Jeff Jones, announced the annual Mimico award in Wellington in July, concluding the annual conference of the nation’s aggregate and quarry industry.

The judges said Cape Foulwind was an excellent example of a company taking long term responsibility for the restoration of land associated with a major cement manufacturing facility.

“It was entirely self-motivated and has involved many of their staff, the local community and DOC. They sought scientific input at an early stage and the company now fund ongoing research to quantify their ecosystem restoration.”

Finding sufficient quantities of the native trees and other plants indigenous to the area saw the establishment of a nursery which grows up to 50,000 plants for Holcim and for sale to the local community.

A Masters thesis had studied the ecological changes of restoration plantings from three years after planting, to over 20 years, and documented good progress towards creating a forest eco-system.

Ongoing research on the site is being supported by a Holcim grant and the judges said benefits from this would flow to other parts of New Zealand.

“This will ensure full documentation of restoration goal and beneficial environmental impacts, while making a contribution to our understanding of the complexity and time scale of such restorations,” said Dr Williams and Mr Jones.

They said a great strength of the project was that it was entirely voluntary, motivated over 20 years ago by the company’s desire to be a good corporate citizen in an area with many important ecological features.

There were four entries for the 2007 Award, including Holcim’s winning entry from Cape Foulwind.

Ravensdown Ltd’s rehabilitation of the Balfour quarry in Southland was judged “an excellent example of creative and quality fulfilment of resource consent conditions.” The original resource consents required the area to be restored to pasture.

Water table levels precluded this option, giving rise to the idea of a recreational lake. “The lake brings benefits for people and wildlife, and being close to a main highway it is visible to many people, including international visitors,” said Dr Williams and Mr Jones.

Winstone Aggregates entry from Waikato/South Auckland saw reductions in carbon emissions through efficiency gains from the vehicle fleet serving its Waikato and south Auckland quarries.
The judges said this was a good example of the cost savings and environmental benefits that can be achieved by harnessing the skills and experience of staff, and through implementing relatively simple operational changes.

Oamaru Shingle Supplies Ltd had entered the Mimico Award after learning lessons from the operation of the ‘Old’ South Quarry and ‘New’ North Quarry in Oamaru.

The judges said this was a good example of some first steps that, over time, can lead to a more ambitious restoration programme for the whole of a quarried area, plus amenity plantings, within the working area of the quarry.

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