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Anyone looking for a rock-solid investment on the West Coast had an option this winter: the regional council wants out of the quarry business.
The council owns seven quarries, supplying road metal and the armour-grade rock that keeps wild rivers in check and the sea at bay, up and down the West Coast.
It owns the Inchbonnie and Mount Camelback quarries outright, and has mineral permits over five other sites on private and conservation land.
Late last year it quietly sold the mining rights to its Whataroa quarry to Greymouth-based MBD Construction Ltd, which already owned the land.
A long-term rock supply agreement was part of the deal, but other details were confidential, the council said.
More quarry sales were likely to follow, West Coast Regional Council chairman Allan Birchfield said.
"The council doesn’t really want to be in quarries — it’s not our core business," Cr Birchfield said.
"There are health and safety issues; we never made much money out of them and in some ways they’re more trouble than they’re worth."
The council would like to see more competition for quarry products, he said.
Some contractors are unhappy the Whataroa quarry sale effectively gave MBD a South Westland quarried rock monopoly.
- By Lois Williams, Greymouth Star/Local democracy reporting