Oamaru cement plant hearings to start next month, NZ

Oamaru cement plant hearings to start next month, NZ
Published: 27 July 2007

The first round in the attempt by Holcim (New Zealand) Ltd to get resource consents for a $200m cement plant near Weston heads to the Environment Court on August 10.

The Waiareka Valley Preservation Society had sought four declarations from the court on resource consent applications Holcim has filed with the Waitaki District Council and Otago Regional Council. A hearing on those applications is scheduled to start in Oamaru on August 20.

Society spokesman Rodney Jones yesterday said three of the declaration applications had been withdrawn by his organisation, but it was proceeding with one on noise standards in the cement zone area where Holcim proposed to establish the plant.

The court had set August 10 for a hearing, Mr Jones said, with a decision expected some time after that.

The other three declarations had been withdrawn after talks with the councils.

Mr Jones said the Environment Court action would not affect the starting date of August 20 for hearing Holcim’s evidence and from submitters.

The court was expected to deliver its decision before the three commissioners _ Dunedin consultant Philip Mitchell (chairman), Auckland consultant and air quality authority Kevin Rolf and Christchurch accredited hearings commissioner Martin Ward _ make a decision on the resource consents.

Holcim’s Westport plant at Cape Foulwind still figures strongly in options the company is considering to meet a growing demand for cement in New Zealand, along with building a $200 million cement plant near Weston in North Otago.

That will be good news for Westport, particularly the 520 people who made submissions on Holcim’s resource consent applications to build the Weston plant.

Redeveloping the Westport plant and supplementing the growing demand for cement by importing in bulk or building a new plant at Westport are two of three options _ including the Weston plant _ being investigated by Holcim.

As part of its work on its Westport new cement plant option, it is investigating the energy, geology and limestone reserves required, as well as the port operations and logistics.

"As we announced in May, we have one medium-term and two long-term options to meet the projected growth in demand for cement in New Zealand," Holcim’s general manager of strategy and development, Paul Commons, said. The two long-term options were either a new plant at Westport or a new plant at Weston, near Oamaru.

At Westport, Holcim was investigating and estimating the volume of raw materials that would be required to support a new cement plant. The work included many kinds of raw material sampling, drilling, computer modelling, quarry planning and restoration plans.