Cost-Efficient Inland Rail Project May Rehabilitate Disused Mt Gravatt Quarry

An analyst from CSIRO reveals that the planned 1,700-kilometre Inland Rail, which would see the rehabilitation of a disused quarry in Mt Gravatt East, could result in annual transport cost savings of $170 million.

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Dr Andrew Higgins, the senior principal scientist determining the benefits of the country’s largest freight rail infrastructure project to move goods from Queensland to Victoria and NSW, said that they have devised a TraNSIT logistics analysis tool to map out existing routes with the National Trunk Rail (NTR) to make a cost comparison.

Whilst the full report is still awaiting release, CSIRO’s analysis has pushed the government to greenlight this project so that the industries involved could start making plans. A part of this plan may include the rehabilitation of the Mt Gravatt East quarry over two decades with minimal disruption to Brisbane’s southside suburbs.

NTR believes this could be possible by launching tunnel boring machines from the disused quarry. The tunnel boring machine, commonly used in underground infrastructure projects, is expected to take up to 250,000 trucks off Brisbane’s roads during construction.

Photo Credit: Inland Rail

The Inland Rail will link to the Brisbane Port from the day it opens via existing rail lines. The Australian and Queensland Governments are canvassing options on how best to improve the connection between the port and Inland Rail over the long term.

In late 2019, the Prime Minister announced the Australian Government would provide $20 million for planning a Port of Brisbane connection with funding to flow from 2020-21 as part of a broader commitment to the Queensland economy. The Queensland Government will provide an in-kind matching contribution.

BMI group, the company that now owns the site after acquiring it from Boral in 2012, believes they can use the spoil from digging the ‘Missing Link’ freight tunnel to fill the quarry.

The owners of the quarry, now known as Pine Mountain Road Quarry, have big plans for the site, including building 500 residences on it once it’s rehabilitated. BMI confirmed they had preliminary approval to develop the old quarry into a housing estate and that could be brought forward if the tunnel is built there.

Pine Mountain Road Quarry features a large lake in the pit and measures 34.57ha. Around 20ha of the total land area will be allowed to be developed for residential purposes. 

When BMI acquired the site years ago, the quarry was filled with murky and slightly acidic water. They conducted a draining operation in March 2020 and worked with a wastewater consultancy to treat the quarry void water, removing its metal content and bringing its pH levels back in line.

“A discharge structure was constructed into a concrete-lined portion of Salvin Creek and downstream erosion protection measures were established to facilitate draining. The company also organised for the installation of a polishing system that could detect the water quality and halt pumping if those attributes fell outside of pre-set parameters,” BMI stated on its website.

NTR believes the plot of land was ideal for tunnelling because it’s large and relatively free of any conflicting infrastructure. They also added that tunnels through this site would avoid the community issue of noise and dust.