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  Today Online 10 Apr 07
Old Ubin quarry may be up and running
Loh Chee Kong

Business Times 10 Apr 07
Pulau Ubin granite quarry may reopen
Need to tap local sources as Indonesia extends sand export ban
By Matthew Phan

Straits Times 10 Apr 07
S'pore may reopen Ubin granite quarry
Tan Hui Yee

Channel NewsAsia 9 Apr 07
Singapore looking to reopen granite quarry

SINGAPORE: Singapore is looking at reopening a granite quarry on Pulau Ubin, according to Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu.

She said this on Monday in response to questions from MPs in Parliament on whether Singapore had alternative sources of granite. Singapore's supply of granite and sand from Indonesia had been affected recently when Jakarta announced a ban on sand exports and later detained some barges carrying granite to Singapore.

Ms Fu said that while Singapore has sourced and received imports from other granite sources, efforts will be made to ensure that the supply line is further diversified to enhance resilience for the local construction industry.

She said that while Singapore looks to buy from as many sources as possible, to build its stockpile and work with the industry for more sustainable construction methods, one other alternative is to look into the local granite sources.

Ms Fu said there will be some limited quarrying and the HDB will look into re-opening one of its quarries on Pulau Ubin.

Pulau Ubin lies on the northeastern tip of Singapore. The island was once a thriving centre for granite quarrying, employing several hundreds of quarry workers.

When limited quarrying work is started on the outlying island of Ubin, Ms Fu said efforts will be made to ensure environment protection.

Ms Fu said marine life, which is rich on Pulau Ubin, will be taken care of with measurements being made of the water content discharged as well as the discharge rate from the quarry site.

Safety is another issue that's being kept in mind and Ms Fu said precautions will be taken such as the sounding of sirens to warn of blasting and the use of barricades to cordon off the area when blasting takes place. In addition, dust from the blasting will be both monitored and managed.

Ms Fu revealed that the Kekek Quarry has been chosen for re-opening as it is far from the residential area of Pulau Ubin, therefore minimising the impact on the island's residents. At the same time, Kekek is close to a jetty so granite can be transported with disruptions to life on the island kept minimal.

She said the consensus is to keep Pulau Ubin as a place for leisure, so blasting and mining activities will not take place on weekends or at night.

At the end of the exercise, Ms Fu said, efforts will also be made to rehabilitate the quarry area. - CNA/ir/ls

Today Online 10 Apr 07
Old Ubin quarry may be up and running
Loh Chee Kong cheekong@mediacorp.com.sg

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."

Business Times 10 Apr 07
Pulau Ubin granite quarry may reopen
Need to tap local sources as Indonesia extends sand export ban
By Matthew Phan

SINGAPORE is looking at reopening a former granite quarry on Pulau Ubin as part of a wider plan to diversify its sources of building materials.

One option is to 'tap our local granite sources, should the need arise', Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu told Parliament yesterday.

According to news reports over the past month, Indonesian officials have discussed extending the country's ban on exports of land sand to Singapore to include granite, which could affect the local building industry. Indonesia has also detained several vessels carrying granite to Singapore, on suspicion they were smuggling sand.

On the Ubin quarry plan, Ms Fu said yesterday: 'It is necessary to carry out some limited quarrying to understand the issues involved in reactivating quarries, such as the preparatory works and time involved, and the mitigating measures to put in place.

HDB (Housing and Development Board) will look into restarting one of its former quarries in Pulau Ubin.'

Foreign Minister George Yeo told Parliament yesterday that Indonesia has inspected the vessels it detained and updated the Singapore Government on the result.

A note was received on Thursday, April 5, Mr Yeo said. Twenty-two tugs and barges were detained. Seven are alleged to have violated the sand ban and others to have infringed other laws.

Only three of the 22 vessels are Singaporean, Mr Yeo said. Indonesia's foreign minister has 'assured me that the verification process would be transparent', he said. 'These cases will now be taken up through the legal process in Indonesia.'

Asked whether the detention of the vessels marks a 'diplomatic failure' or a failure of Asean, Mr Yeo said the matter is bilateral and Indonesia is within its rights to ban sand exports for environmental reasons.

'Officials have talked about various motives, but the official reason given to us is environmental and we have to take it at face value,' he said.

Indonesia and Singapore are mutually dependent and cooperate in other areas and must 'manage discrete problems on their own account', Mr Yeo said.

Meanwhile, Ms Fu said the government will share up to 75 per cent of the price increase in sand and granite to help local construction firms. She urged industry players to cooperate in other ways to cope with any disruption, saying public agencies have started to make progress payments on projects and private developers should do likewise.

The higher cost of sand and granite amounts to an estimated 2 per cent of overall project cost, Ms Fu said. 'That's not a very significant proportion and at its current state, the market is still in a very good position to benefit from the upswing.'

Straits Times 10 Apr 07
S'pore may reopen Ubin granite quarry
Tan Hui Yee tanhy@sph.com.sg

Limited quarrying to be done to test feasibility of restarting operations

SINGAPORE is looking to reopen a former granite quarry in Pulau Ubin to pave the way for a local source of the rock. This move is in addition to others being taken to guard against future disruption in supplies, following Indonesia's detaining of barges and tugboats carrying granite here.

The detention of the more than 20 vessels came a few weeks after Indonesia banned the export of land sand. The combined effect of the supply dip in sand and granite hiked the price of ready-mixed concrete to about $200 per cubic metre - almost three times. Sand and granite are key ingredients in concrete. The detention of the barges has also made tugboat owners wary about carrying granite to Singapore, although Indonesia has not officially banned the export of granite.

Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu, speaking in Parliament yesterday, said her ministry would keep all its options open and plan for all contingencies.

One of these options was to tap local sources of granite should the need arise. But before this can be done, the Government needs to carry out limited quarrying work to understand the issues involved in restarting work in former quarries.

The Housing Board has identified Pulau Ubin's Kekek Quarry for this purpose. Ms Fu assured the House that the discharge of water from the quarry pit will be managed to protect marine life, blasting work will be restricted to weekdays and the day time, and the area will be rehabilitated once quarrying is over to preserve the flora and fauna there.

She also stressed that Pulau Ubin will continue as a leisure spot.

The planned quarry, Kekek, is among the smallest of seven former quarries on Ubin. Quarrying activities in Singapore last ceased in 1999 when it became more economical to import granite from Indonesia.

Meanwhile, granite has been arriving without a hitch from other sources in the region, even as the ministry has been working to increase the number of these sources.

In response to MP Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), who asked what was being done to prevent construction firms from jacking up prices without reason, Ms Fu said the Government was releasing suitable sites for the manufacture of ready-mixed concrete. Some contractors have said that producing their own ready-mixed concrete would help them get around possible profiteering by those who supply concrete, or sand and granite. About 10 ready-mixed concrete manufacturers are in business here.

Construction group Lian Beng's director, Mr Tan Swee Hong, said of producing his own concrete: 'This will put pressure on the ready-mixed concrete makers, as well as the sand and granite suppliers. I can always say 'I'll import the material myself'.'

In the House yesterday, MPs Lee Bee Wah (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) asked whether the prices of sand and granite released from the Government stockpile could be cut.

Stockpiled sand is now being sold at $60 per tonne, compared to its pre-ban market price of about $20, while stockpiled granite is now going at $70 per tonne, up from its previous price of about $25.

Replying, Ms Fu said stockpiled sand and granite was being priced at what it would cost to replenish the stockpile from various sources. The private sector is also being encouraged to import its own supplies.

Also discussed on the focus ubin forum

Stories and photos of a trip to Kekek last weekend are on the ubin stories blog and the wildfilms blog

On the habitatnews blog Isn't it time we started tightening our belts? and a google map of Kekek Quarry

Related articles on Pulau Ubin
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