SOLD: The Shepton Quarry near Capella is to be sold to Wagners Quarries.
SOLD: The Shepton Quarry near Capella is to be sold to Wagners Quarries.

Council quarry to be sold to private company

RED tape and a lack of market competitiveness has forced the sale of a publicly-owned quarry near Capella.

Central Highlands Regional Council, which owns and operates Shepton Quarry, recently decided to sell the operation to Toowoomba-based construction company Wagners.

Council CEO Scott Mason said the council could not compete with the relative market agility of a private corporation.

"The state government has changed the regulations for quarrying, which essentially is classed as a mining operation, and that puts council at a high risk for something that is not really a core council business.

"That, coupled with the difficulty of running a quarry business within the constraints of a local government legislative environment, put council at a disadvantage compared to its commercial competitors.

"The most sensible decision was to find a suitable buyer and divest itself of a business that had become financially and operationally challenging."

Mr Mason said the decision was "purely economic".

"After independent analysis of the commercial viability of the quarry to council, and a great deal of internal evaluation, the decision was made to sell the entire operation 'as is' via tender.

"A number of factors influenced the decision, among which was a careful consideration of the risk that operating a quarry poses to council these days."

Council Customer and Commercial Services general manager Michelle Webster said the purchase price was confidential and that settlement was not confirmed, but was expected either this month or next.

"[The] constraints of government processes, such as procurement and labour shortages, do not necessarily lend themselves to a level playing field with our competitors," she said.

Wagners did not respond to a request for comment.

The council said it would offer its three quarry employees other jobs.



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