Quarry-ty over Quantity
- Being the backbone of the country’s growth, Sunway Quarry is looking for a more sustainable growth.
One of the definitions of ‘sacrifice’ is to ‘give up something valued for the sake of other considerations’. While some end up in despair, some could turn out to be favourable. Sunway Quarry is one of the few quarry operations in Malaysia that bounced back after plummeting from its perch.
Established in the 1970s, the then Sungei Way Quarry was once a major player in nation building and development. However, its business took a hit during the financial crisis in 1999, which led to the disposal of Sungei Way Quarry to Hanson Quarry.
“Without Sunway (Sungei Way) Quarry, Sunway Group would not be the conglomerate it is today. Without the disposition or selling of assets to our competitor like Hanson Quarry, we would have been out of jobs,” said Sunway Quarry Industries Chief Executive Officer Lee Chuan Seng.
Just like a tin mine, Mother Nature gave Her precious minerals for a greater purpose, necessity and good.
How and what we do next after Her sacrifice is key. Whether to abandon Her or restore Her beauty it lies solely on us.
That being said, it was a tough decision for Sunway Group Founder and Chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah AO to sell off Sungei Way Quarry. But it was a necessary move to ensure all his staff continued to receive their income and fend for their families.
“Today, we are one of the major contributors in the industry,” said Lee, on Sunway Quarry’s achievements over the years.
What is quarry?
The most common purpose of quarries is to extract stones as building materials. It is fair to say that many don’t give much thought to the subject of construction aggregate, and may associate a quarry to an open-pit mine. To some, it may also be known as a place where rocks, sand, or minerals are extracted from. Either way, both facts have grounds to stand on.
The importance of quarry
With the ever growing population and the rapidly changing world, quarrying has become a necessity.
“It has become essential for the world to use raw materials from quarry mines to build skyscrapers, townships and modern transportation systems like the Light Railway Transit (LRT) and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Without these mines, we will probably still be living life backwards,” said Lee.
Being a pioneer and major player in the market did not come easy for Sunway Quarry.
“In the early days, there was less competition. Demand on development was higher with Malaysia embarking on paving new highways and skyscrapers. With the height of construction, came along the spike in demand for raw materials,” said Sunway Quarry Industries General Manager of Production Chew Kiew Mow.
Continuing that legacy will not be easy, Chew admits, citing that more competitors, development of society, difference in demographics, technology, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic, as challenges to Sunway Quarry.
Battling ongoing challenges
One of the challenges faced by Quarry is managing housing and township developments nearby.
“These developments are now encroaching into quarry territories. We get complaints that we are close to housing areas, when in fact, it is just the opposite” Chew said.
But there is a safety zone for these developments, Chew added, there is a new ruling stating that quarries are required to be 500 meters away from a housing area, or vice versa.
“We cannot control the development of housing areas near quarries, as all approvals are given by the local authorities. Social media is another challenge we face these days as residents are using this platform to post unverified information,” Chew concluded.
He added that blasting technology has evolved so much that it is safer to conduct a blast compared to before. The advancement of technology has reshaped the quarry industry, making it safer and more sustainable. To date, Sunway has a zero accident rate across all quarries.
The processes of drilling and blasting, loading, hauling, crushing and conveying, stockpiling have all improved. With the introduction of industrial dust collector, the air surrounding the quarry is also much cleaner. The added water sprinkler on site has reduced dust and minimise environmental impact, Chew added.
Being Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly
With quarrying being a necessity for nation building, Sunway Quarry is continuously finding ways to operate in a socially responsible and sustainable manner.
“Light fuel oil to liquefied petroleum gas initiative will be implemented at more quarry sites around the country, from Kemaman, Sg Bakap to Gebing. This is to ensure cleaner emissions of CO2,” said Lee, adding that they have also planted vegetation, trees and flowers for a greener quarry ambience.
“It does not only give us cleaner air, but it smells better too. However, it is not as simple as it seems. For us to be able to use liquefied petroleum gas, we will first need to have a pipeline source, and this is managed by Petronas,” continued Lee.
Hydro seeding is also a key component of Sunway Quarry’s landscape rehabilitation plan. It is an extremely cost-effective and successful method of establishing new vegetation.
Sunway Quarry also plants Eugenia trees along the access road and lemongrass near its quarry offices. These efforts do not only make the quarrying site a beautiful place to work in, but it also maintains the natural state of the site.
What is the future for Sunway Quarry?
With nine quarries (Selangor (four), Perak, Melaka, Kedah, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan) in Malaysia, Lee forecasts more expansion and growth in market share in the future.
“After we are done with quarrying, the area will be turned into an integrated development. In short, this will be another ‘wasteland to wonderland’ transformation. We are confident in rebuilding the ecosystem, and plan to start with our Semenyih quarry, and then shift our attention to the Dolomite quarry site. Although it is a long term plan, we are confident just like how we had succeeded with Sunway City Kuala Lumpur,” said Chew.
When asked about Sunway Quarry’s 10-year projection plan, Lee’s answer was simple.
“We aim to be the No. 1 quarry company in Malaysia, to complement our existing status of being the No. 1 Premix operator in the country. On top of that, we also want Sunway Quarry to be a fun, and safe workplace.”
This article first appeared in Berita Sunway Issue 68