Operator gets approval from City of Greater Geraldton to shift Walkaway sand mine 3km to protect residents

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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ASI’s Walkaway site team mining washed concrete sand last year.
Camera IconASI’s Walkaway site team mining washed concrete sand last year. Credit: LinkedIn/Australiasian Sands International

Complaints to the City of Greater Geraldton council about a controversial mining venture in Walkaway, set to create dozens of local jobs, has prompted its operator to shift its new operation 3km to protect neighbouring properties.

The council’s decision to approve the relocation comes as the settlement of rural lifestyle blocks is threatened by the proposed construction of a major freight bypass route that would split the community in half.

CDP Town Planning and Urban Design, acting for Australasian Sands International, applied to the City of Greater Geraldton to develop Lot 68, Allanooka Springs Road, into an extractive sand mine, with the potential to mine two million tonnes over the next two years and employ about 40 people.

The 24 hours a day, seven days a week sand mining operations were proposed over a portion of the lot, 100ha of the southern area.

ASI has mined 500,000 tonnes at a neighbouring site since July last year, when it took over the project, with the intention to close the existing mine upon start of the new operation.

Deputy mayor Tarleah Thomas told the council she had seen footage of sandblasting from the existing mine on to a neighbouring property which was watering sheep.

As a result of the City advertising the proposal, four submissions were received, all objecting to the proposal, from neighbouring farming properties.

Cr Sally Elphick spoke against the motion, expressing concern that Walkaway would not remain purely residential.

“I’m just concerned about this development but also the conflict of interest between industry and the current landowners, residential people that have made these areas their home ... there’s no defining line anymore and that people are starting to be affected,” she said.

“It seems to be coming from all directions of industry and bypass roads, whatever is happening, just a general concern overall that these things are popping up and people are being affected.

“I understand the whole jobs thing and that’s great but also people are our greatest resource.”

But ASI founder and managing director Simon Rushton, who was in the public gallery at Tuesday’s council meeting, said community consultation prompted the company to move the new minesite 3km, making it at least 1.5km from its closest residential neighbour.

“We understand that there has been some objections lodged in respect to proximity to residences ... as soon as we realised that was a concern we’ve undertaken to relocate the plant further away,” he said. “

“We’ve also employed a strategy which was given to us by a technical engineer which was to build a bund along Walkaway-Nangetty Road along the boundary there ... a lot of the disturbance of the land in that area was done before we took control.”

Cr Victor Tanti moved the item, saying while residents had expressed concerns about the mine, procedures were in place to protect their properties.

“The industry is one that has potential for growth, it will employ up to 40 people, it’s an export industry with potential to also be a domestic industry,” Cr Tanti said.

“I think it’s good for Geraldton, good for business, good for employment and I think it deserves our support.”

The motion was carried nine votes to four.

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