Aggregate and Quarry

The construction of infrastructure and development within urban and rural areas of New Zealand depends on the ability to access, extract, process and transport aggregate(being crushed rock, gravel and sand) from quarries (collectively referred to as ‘quarrying’ in this guidance note). Therefore, it is important aggregate resources are understood and effectively managed, including managing the effects of quarrying on the environment.

The potential effects of quarrying and gravel extraction vary according to the type, scale, location, receiving environment and distance from the market. The effects produced by quarrying can often be mitigated or remedied but not always avoided. This creates the potential for quarrying to both adversely affect, and be affected by, surrounding land uses.

Regional councils and territorial authorities both play a key role in integrated planning for aggregate resources and managing any adverse environmental effects of quarrying through district and regional plans and the resource consent process. However, councils do not manage the allocation of mineral resources – this is done by the Crown.

This guidance note outlines the key matters in planning for quarrying, describes the key effects of quarrying and gravel extraction and the methods available to manage these effects under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), including examples of methods in practice.

The focus of this guidance note is on the planning and management of medium and large scale quarrying of aggregate from the ground, including river beds and beaches. It does not address small-scale quarrying, dredging, extraction from the coastal marine area below the mean low water springs or the extraction of other mineral resources such as coal, gold or oil. However, many of the resource management issues and associated management methods for quarrying and gravel extraction are generally relevant to other forms of mineral extraction and smaller-scale quarrying activities. 

This guidance note was initiated by the

Aggregate and Quarry Association of New Zealand (AQANZ),

in partnership with the Ministry for the Environment and Local Government New Zealand, as a way of promoting best practice to deal with the complex range and scale of resource management issues associated with the aggregate and quarry industry.

The development of this guidance note was initiated with the development of a background paper identifying key resource management issues with quarrying. The main issues included:

  • strategic planning for provision of aggregate to meet current and future infrastructure and development
  • management of on-site and off-site environmental effects of quarrying, which vary depending on the type of activity, scale of operation, location, receiving environment and distance to market
  • reverse sensitivity pressures on managing the operation and expansion of existing quarries or the establishment of new quarries, in areas where there are conflicts or constraints with adjacent land uses.


These issues and others were discussed with local government and industry participants at the ‘Planning for the Aggregate and Quarry Industry Conference’ held in June 2009 and are addressed throughout this guidance note.