Considerable interest for commercial development of the kaolin resource within the friable sandstones at Newnes Junction dates back to 27th September 1988 with an application lodged for a Prospecting Licence 887 (PLA 887) for Group 5 (Clays) with the NSW Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) by Australian Aggregates Pty Ltd. The "kaolin" tenement predates by almost four years an application lodged by the same party on 23 January 1992 for a sand extraction licence over the same area at Newnes Junction.
PLA 887 was converted to Exploration Licence 4192 (EL4192) by the DMR on 7th February 1992 and title was transferred to the Newnes Kaolin Pty Ltd partnership during 1994. The stimulus for kaolin exploration at Newnes Junction was initiated by an investigation carried out by the DMR in June 1984 (Kmetoni, 1984).
The investigation was undertaken to evaluate the industrial mineral potential of sand washing tailings from the current Rocla Pit (formerly Australian Aggregates Pty Ltd) as a raw material resource for the production of refined kaolin. The clay produced through hydro-cyclone classification was proven to be high quality china clay suitable for use in whiteware ceramics.
Magnetic filtration for further refinement of the kaolin carried out by the Aquafine Corporation in USA (Kmetoni, 1985) showed the technical feasibility of producing beneficiated kaolin, with a significantly lower iron content, from the Rocla tailings dam.
From 1994 until 2003, SCM was engaged in exploration and market research activities. This work became the basis of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required as part of the Development Application (DA) submitted to the then Department of Infrastructure, Planning, and Natural Resources (DIPNR) for Development Consent.
On 7th July 2003, SCM lodged a DA and EIS with DIPNR. Following lodgement, a 28-day public display period was held by DIPNR during which 10 Government Agency submissions and 28 public submissions were received. Included in the Government Agency submissions were requests for further information before an assessment could be made.
After receiving submissions on the EIS, SCM evaluated an alternative mining method using the Wirtgen Surface Miner. This particular technique has since been adopted, and revised a noise assessment, quarry plan, and soil and water management plant have been prepared. The noise modelling showed significantly lower noise emissions, allowing the development to operate well within the EPA noise limits without the need for acquisition of any of the six neighbouring residential properties in the Newnes Junction village. Further information is available in the Quarry Plan (MineConsult, 2004) and the Noise Impact Assessment (Atkins Acoustics, 2004). Additional flora and fauna surveys were conducted by Gunninah Environmental Consultants (2004), which substantiated the original findings that there are no endangered or threatened species on the Project site.
Since the public display period, SCM has prepared and submitted all additional information required by DIPNR. The Company is now awaiting for a determination from the Department of Planning (formerly DIPNR) on the information with which they have been presented.
© Sydney Construction Materials 2010