Site Planning Key to Successful Operation
Most quarry operators know they need a good design. But have you thought of all the reasons that design is essential?
For starters, a good design is more likely to gain planning approval—and attract less opposition. It only makes sense because that quarry will be safer for workers—and the environment.
Of course there’s also a financial incentive: The proper design is more likely to be successful from a business standpoint.
Where to start
The beginning of the design process will involve defining the outcomes desired from the development and assembling information about the local environment, the mineral reserve, market conditions and geotechnical considerations. At the initial quarry design stage information should be provided in the following seven key areas:
- Establishing the minimum land requirements: limits of recoverable mineral and areas required for associated activities such as processing, access and on-site disposal of quarry/process waste
- Establishing the legal context: ownership and control of the land
- Establishing the planning context: details of previous planning applications relating to the site, local planning policy etc.
- Site description: ground surface contours, geological, geochemical, geotechnical, hydrogeological and hydrological information
- Identification of key environmental issues and matters that could have a major effect on design: space needed for construction of anti-pollution measures, the presence of ecological or archaeological features, the presence of housing or other development
- Identification of safety issues: geotechnical or operational conditions that will influence quarry safety
- Establishing the commercial/financial context: market conditions, competition, costs and the quality and quantity of the mineral reserve.
Working up initial designs
The above information should enable key technical, environmental and economic constraints to be established and some alternative designs for quarry working and restoration to be developed. At this stage the designs can be expressed as simple concepts and do not need to be worked up in detail.
Detailed quarry design
The more detailed quarry design should include the following details:
- An accurate topographical survey of the site and immediate surroundings
- Proposed excavation and tipping areas shown at different stages over the life of the site
- Restoration proposed (progressive restoration should be proposed wherever possible). This will include plans and cross sections and visualizations showing final levels/contours, details of what the site is to be restored to and the intended after-use and aftercare details
- Proposed excavation methods
- Proposed arrangements for haulage within the site and details of site access and traffic generated by the proposed development
- Plans for processing and storage
- Water usage within the site, e.g. arrangements for pumping, and abstraction/discharge arrangements
- Soil stripping, storage and replacement
- Monitoring and management of potential nuisance from dust, noise and vibration
- Advance and permanent landscaping
- Measures designed to mitigate impacts on the local environment
In tandem with developing a more detailed quarry design, additional information will need to be gathered about the local environment. This is often referred to as a baseline study and is likely to include information on:
- Local geology
- Surface water/groundwater/hydrology
- The local landscape/seascape
- The visual context of the site
- Local features of archaeological/cultural interest
- Local highways and traffic conditions
- Ecology and nature conservation
- The nature and quantity of soils, overburden and wastes
- Air quality
- Noise and vibration
Design is an ongoing process. Changes in circumstances may require relatively minor revisions for instance to working practices, or more major ones. It is therefore important that information is gathered about local circumstances during the life of the site.