Moyne Shire is investing in Mortlake's Mount Shadwell quarry as it aims to maintain a steady supply of road building materials for its ambitious capital works program.
The council has committed nearly $1.6 million to the quarry in its 2022-23 budget, including $1.5m for a new rock crushing machine, and $90,000 for fencing and restoration works in the quarry itself.
Mayor Ian Smith said the quarry - which produced 118,232 cubic metres of scoria and raised nearly $2m in revenue over the past financial year - was an enormous asset to the council and well worth ongoing investment.
"Council sources a large amount of material for our road building program from the quarry, so this investment in new plant will ensure it is able to meet the demand of the huge road works component of the capital works program we have in front of us," Cr Smith said.
The council has so many capital works projects on the drawing board that councillors have voted to hire several new administrative staff at a cost of $500,000 to work through the backlog in what it is dubbing the "Great Moyne Build".
"Having a quarry council owns... is invaluable, especially as we embark on the Great Moyne Build and in consideration of the well publicised shortages of construction materials," Cr Smith said.
"The quarry is a good news story for council, a strong business unit that provides employment and flow on benefits for the Mortlake and wider Moyne community."
Mount Shadwell manager Mark Edwards said production had been rising ever since the quarry updated its previous crushing plant around a decade ago.
"The old one was stationary, now it's on tracks so it can move around which really helps production," Mr Edwards said. He said after 10 years it was time to replace the current machine.
While Moyne Shire relies heavily on the scoria - a light, sturdy volcanic rock that is popular in road construction and landscaping - for its road building program, Mr Edwards said farmers had become a major client for the quarry.
"We produce everything from 150mm scoria down to dust. The dust has traditionally been used for bedding pipes, but dairy farmers have been using it more and more for resheeting their cow tracks," he said.
Mr Edwards said the supply of scoria was limited by the local water table, but there was plenty of viable rock left before they hit the "buffer zone" where the water level would become an issue.
"I'd say there's around 70-75 years left in it, which will see me out," he said.
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