Council approves new policies on quarrying and mining

diggers at quarry 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
diggers at quarry 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The National Planning and Building Council approved Tuesday a policy document meant to guide the quarrying and mining industry over the next 30 years. Demand for raw materials is expected to nearly double in that time, according to the analysts who compiled the document.
There are about 50 quarries in Israel producing about 50 million tons of raw materials for buildings and roads annually.
By 2040, that number is expected to rise to 94m. tons annually.
The main goal, according to the policy document, is to ensure that Israel meets its goals domestically without having to rely on any foreign sources.
The secondary goal is to meet Israel’s needs in a sustainable manner. What that means is that optimal use of existing quarries should be implemented, alternate paving techniques should be utilized which require fewer raw materials and the quarries must be rehabilitated after they have been tapped out. Recycled construction and demolition waste must also play a significant role to reduce demand for new raw materials.
The analysts also singled out underground mining, as opposed to open quarrying, as a preferred option in landstrapped Israel. Right now, most raw materials are quarried from open quarries rather than dug out of the ground.
The analysts also addressed the issue of quarried materials in Judea and Samaria – the legality of which is the subject of a pending High Court case.
The analysts categorized the 20% or 8m. tons quarried in the region per year as imported raw materials, a reliable supply which could not be guaranteed into the future. Therefore, the analysts have planned for alternative sources within the Green Line to compensate.
Perhaps in an indication of future planning priorities, the policy document is full of ways to reduce the environmental impact of quarries. From air and noise pollution during the quarrying itself, to using up open spaces, to rehabilitating the quarry at the end of its productive life.
The Quarry Rehabilitation Fund has been very successful returning quarries to natural states – particularly in Mahtesh Ramon. Even if a quarry cannot be rehabilitated to its former state, it can be turned into a national park, which was done on numerous occasions by the Fund in the north, for instance.
The policy document will guide the implementation of National Master Plan 14 B, an update of national master plan 14. National Master Plan 14 was created in the 1990s based on information from the 70s and 80s, so an update was clearly in order. The National Planning and Building Council commissioned the policy document in 2007 from a team headed by Lerman Architects and Urban Planners and Aviv Infrastructure, Industry and Environment. A committee of editors comprised of government officials and representatives of environmental organizations edited the policy document.