Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Old Ubin Quarry May Be Up And Running"

Kekek Quarry Today.
Photo taken at Kekek Quarry, or tianci, in 2005.

Kekek Quarry Tomorrow.
Photo of Aik Hwa Quarry, the last quarry to close on Ubin in 1999.

Old Ubin Quarry May Be Up And Running
Loh Chee Kong
10 April 2007

Jolted first by Indonesia's ban on sand exports and then the disruption of its granite supply, Singapore is taking more steps to ensure it will not be caught off guard again.

The Housing and Development Board, which owns the disused Kekek Quarry on Pulau Ubin, is looking into resuming mining at the site, Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu said.

It will not be a major supply source but the move will pave the way for other local granite sources to be tapped, should the need arise.

Said Ms Fu: "It is necessary to carry out some quarrying to understand the issues involved in reactivating quarries."

There are five disused granite quarry sites on Pulau Ubin. Bukit Timah Hill and Gali Batu were also sources of granite during Singapore's early development.

Nature-lovers who Today spoke to were concerned about the potential disruption to the rustic island. Said Mr Ben Lee, 45, who heads Nature Trekkers: "The natural surroundings, especially the eco-system, will be affected."

Ms Fu said the Ministry of National Development was "very mindful" of conservation and safety issues. The Kekek site was chosen for its distance from residential areas and proximity to sea transport, minimising "disruption to life on the island".

During blasting, warning sirens will be sounded and the area will be cordoned off. Blasting activities, she added, will not take place over the weekend or at night so as to preserve Pulau Ubin as a leisure getaway.

According to the National Parks Board, there will be "minimal impact" on the quarry's biodiversity. At the end of the mining exercise, efforts will be made to rehabilitate the quarry site, said Ms Fu.

Giving an update on the granite vessels being detained by Indonesia, Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo said investigations by the authorities there found seven of the 22 tugboats and barges were in violation of the land sand ban. Three Singaporean barge owners may be prosecuted in the Indonesian courts.

He said: "It is good that the matter is now transparent. If charges are pressed, they will defend themselves and the matter should be properly resolved in this way, according to the laws of Indonesia."

Habitatnews provided a satellite image of the quarry while Sivasothi provides insights or perhaps a forewarning of Singapore's resource consumption.

"So isn't it now finally time to consider tightening our belts? And start behaving as if resources are finite. And investing more in developing alternatives ahead of time?"
Related Reads:
  • "S'pore may reopen Ubin granite quarry", Straits Times article reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 10 April 2007
  • "缓解石荒 扩大来源 乌敏岛将恢复开采花岗石", Lianhe Zaobao article reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 10 April 2007
  • "关闭十年 乌敏岛石场将恢复开采", includes a video of Kekek Quarry, Channel8 News Report reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 9 April 2007
  • "Isn't it time we start tightening our belts?", Habitatnews, 9 Apr 2007
  • "Kekek Quarry, Pulau Ubin: may be reopened for quarrying", Habitatnews, 9 Apr 2007
  • "Singapore looking to reopen granite quarry", CNA reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 9 Apr 2007
  • "Kekek Quarry, Pulau Ubin", Wildfilms Blog, 7 April 2007
  • "Ubin Journies Episode 1", PulauUbinStories, 7 April 2007

    Background Information on Ubin Quarries
  • "Dangers of Granite Quarrying", 1993 Lianhe Wanbao report reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 24 Feb 2006
  • "Aerial Map of Ubin", explains the geology of Ubin Granite, PulauUbinStories, 20 Feb 2006
  • "Govt to develop Ubin Quarry into recreational park", 1998 Business Times Article reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 28 Jan 2006
  • "Going off the Cliff", a ST report on cliffdiving at kekek quarry reproduced on PulauUbinStories, 13 September 2005
  • "The Quarries", PulauUbinStories, 5 April 2005
  • "Quarry Lakes", talks about Tianci, otherwise known as Kekek Quarry, PulauUbinStories, 28 March 2005

    JC said...

    Sure hope the relevant authorities do their due diligence before starting any work. Feel so sad that the natural environment in ubin will once again be disturbed (pray that it will not be destroyed).


    Anonymous said...

    This is a government that prides itself on transparency but is ever so shy whenever it comes to making its EIA subject to public scrutiny. Somehow, NParks' assurance that the impact on biodiversity rings so hollow when they are not able to substantiate this claim openly.