Save Our Sands Alliance opposes large scale mining in the Southern Highlands of NSW and across Australia.
Save Our Sands Alliance advocates against the irreversible damage and impact of sand mining on our environment and health.
SOSA aims to advocate for policies and restrictions on the extraction of sand nationally and internationally; protect environmentally sensitive areas and farmland; protect native flora and fauna; protect ground and surface water systems; and advocate for people whose health, properties and livelihoods are affected by mining.
The Proposal – Sutton Forest, NSW
SOSA established in 2018 following a proposal by Sutton Forest Quarries Pty Ltd to construct a sand quarry. Over 45 years, the mine is expected to reach a depth of 60 metres and will be two-thirds the size of Sydney’s Central Business District. It will extract and process 29 million tonnes of friable sandstone, which has lain dormant for 225 million years, at a rate of 1.15 million tonnes per year.
With the recent closure of sand mines at Penrith Lakes and impending closure of mining at the Kurnell Peninsula in NSW, Sutton Forest Quarries Pty Ltd plans to supply Sydney, Illawarra, the Southern Highlands and Canberra. Ninety-five per cent of the processed sand will be distributed within the Sydney region. It is expected to operate up to 24 hours a day, creating only 20 full-time jobs, with no more than 50 contractors during the construction phase.
The proposed mine lies in a critical area of the Great Western Wildlife Corridor – the only native habitat from the Blue Mountains to Morton National Park. Native flora and exotic fauna live in the Corridor, including nine threatened species – the powerful owl, gang gang cockatoo, glossy black cockatoo, scarlet robin, varied sittella, squirrel glider, eastern bentwing bat, greater broad-nosed bat, large-eared pied bat, dwarf phyllota and the Paddy’s River swamp gum.
The Corridor was established to facilitate the interaction of endangered animals. However, the mine will clear and narrow the Corridor to 500 metres in parts, threatening the fragile ecosystem.
Creeks and swamps will be disturbed by this mine, leading to eroded materials entering and polluting waterways – waterways that are the lifeblood of this fragile ecosystem and Sydney’s water supply, which supports an increasing population of more than 5 million people. These waterways are already under pressure from irreversible damage caused by a decommissioned colliery, and additional coal and sand mining proposals in the region, which are just a few kms apart.
The mine could expose the surrounding community to excessive light, noise and vibration; increased traffic and transport; damage significant cultural and heritage sites; and damage to the socio-economic prospects of the region, including the continual growth in agriculture, employment and tourism.
Residents are concerned the mine will significantly reduce air quality, exposing them to silica dust (respirable crystalline silica). Exposure to silica dust can lead to the development of lung cancer and silicosis (an irreversible scarring and stiffening of the lungs), and other health issues. This is of particular concern, with the Green Valley sand mine just 4km from the site, which will extract 30 million tonnes of friable sandstone.
Sutton Forest Quarries Pty Ltd is a private company established as a joint venture partnership between the Tulla Resources Group Pty Ltd and Mr Patrick Hallinan.