Contractors are twiddling thumbs and projects face delays because the Hoporata Quarry has run out of suitable metal.
“Contractors can’t go to work and make money,” says Dave Whiting of Gulf Island Earthmovers. “Builders can’t get retaining walls or driveways in; landscapers are affected – we’re all in the same boat.”
Mr Whiting says the delays – and lost income – will flow through the island economy.
Quarry manager Graham Clark blames the late-summer deluges and higher-than-forecast demand for the shortages.
Over 500mm of rain in March and April caused contamination of stockpiles and problems with raw material for processing, Mr Clark says.
Blasting has been brought forward to 9 June to improve supply. “The benefit of the blast is that it will provide relatively dry raw material, which will be much easier to process, and rock, which is also in demand,” he says.
“Once the blast is completed our production capacity will allow us to rebuild stock relatively quickly.”
In the meantime, the trades sector is less than impressed with the quarry’s management.
Graeme Anderson of Skapes Landscaping says metal and rock are needed for everything from drainage and retaining walls for houses to roading.
“This will stop jobs,” Mr Anderson says. “We’re doing alright at the moment but we are having to pick and choose until we get more metal. People who’ve been waiting for walls will be waiting a bit longer.
“In all the years I’ve been contracting I’ve never known it to run out like this. We haven’t been able to get rock in months. It’s definitely making life difficult.”
Dean Rissetto, owner-operator of Central Landscaping, says systems should be put in place to ensure the quarry is not caught short again.
“Continuity of business is essential for everyone on the island,” Mr Rissetto says.
“In some ways they faced a perfect storm with the wet weather and increased demand.”
Dave Whiting says the council and its main contractor Downers are bringing “thousands of tonnes” of metal for roads to the island by barge.
Mr Clark says the quarry’s policy is to hold six months’ supply “and we would have been on track given normal weather patterns in March and April”.
“We understand the pressure this has put on customers and are working hard to improve the situation.”
He says the company is working with customers to try to ensure essential work is completed. • Geoff Cumming