Lilydale Quarry

Update 08/6/10

Restored original post.

Update 14/1/10

The notes from the recent community meeting are available from the Lilydale Quarry Unimin Community website which can be found HERE. The overburden dump has started to expand and the sprinkler system used to suppress the dust appears to be failing as evident in the following pictures.

Update 02/1/10 original Dec 13th 2007

I have been living in the Lilydale Lakeview region, (Victoria, Australia) for a while now with my wife and son and our biggest concern at the moment is the never ending battle with typical hay fever like symptoms.

The obvious cause of the problem is the incredible amount of dust in this estate and surrounding areas, all of which seem to originate the Lilydale quarry.

The whole family suffers varying degrees of watery eyes, sneezing and now itchy skin and is starting to become more than a nuisance. My Son seems to have a constant cold and is very susceptible to related infections.  Update: He recently had his tonsils and adenoids removed because of sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils and now we find out there is a direct correlation between Crystalline Silica, hydrated lime and abnormal respiratory illness.

My Son grew up in this area and I really hope his enlarged Adenoids and Tonsils were not a result of the Dust – It scares me to be honest as we have now removed his only defense to it.  The effect this environmental issue is having on our babies, sons and daughters needs to be addressed.  The effects on Adult males are known in regards to Crystalline Silica, but new research on infants and developing adolescents is disturbing to say the least.

After a trip interstate, all our Hey fever Like symptoms vanished which led me to some quick googling and local research.

According to Unimin, Dust is collected in dust gauges around the site boundary and is analysed to determine if environmental emissions are within acceptable limits, but what if you are a resident in direct line of site of the Quarry?

When we first moved into our house the Quarry was not even visible, but due to the aptly called overburden, the Quarry is also now an eye sore. Pictures speak a thousand words in this regard, the following images were all roughly taken from the same spot.

Quarry Pictures from the Lakeview side of the Estate.

Unimin has setup a community based website here:

The Unimin Community Consultative Committee, or CCC, has been established as a forum where the local community can be informed of current and future plans for the quarry and plant.

The CCC web site contains information such as meeting minutes, presentations and agendas, photographs, details on future meetings or events and some background data on Unimin and its products.

Lilydale Quarry is owned by the Victorian subsidiary of of US based Unimin, Unimin Lime.

Lilydale quarry products:


The MSDS sheets regarding Lilydale Quarry raw products go a long way in explaining our current health issues and it will be interesting how many others are affected in this area.

Of Note, is the fact Limil is classified as hazardous according to the criteria of NOHSC (Worksafe Australia).

I know the quarry was located here long before any housing estates were established but surely any health and environmental impact upon humans would have been researched fully prior to any sort of development?

Yarra Ranges Shire Public Amenity Local Law 2001

The Yarra Ranges Shire has also been ignorant in upholding it own laws in regards to the 2001 Public Amenity Local Law.

The objectives of this Local Law are to:

  • Promote a physical and social environment free from hazards to health, in which the residents of and visitors to the municipal district can enjoy a quality of life that meets the general expectations of the community;
  • Protect and promote access, safety and amenity within the municipal district;
  • Regulate and control activities within the municipal district that may be dangerous, unsafe or detrimental to the environment or to the quality of life of persons residing in or visiting the municipal district;
  • Provide for the peace, order and good government of the municipal district.

Quote: Unsightly Land and Land kept in a Dangerous Manner

For the purpose of Clause 8 of the Local Law, land or premises visible from an adjoining land or road shall be deemed:

  • a) Unsightly if there is present on the land or premises a substantial amount of rubbish, building materials, excavation materials, derelict car bodies & vehicles, vehicle parts, tyres or disused fittings or equipment.
  • b) Detrimental to the amenity of the area in which it is located if: the land is unsightly; there is on the land any building or structure which is incomplete and impacts on the visual amenity of the area; and
  • c) Dangerous if: by reasons of the manner in which the property is maintained or goods are stored on it poses any risk to the public.

Irony in its finest form as the Yarra Ranges Shire has completely failed to act on behalf of its residents and followed its own legal guidelines.

Download The Amenity Local Law here.

Some links:

Is Limil or hydrated lime dangerous?

Repeated exposure to the dust may result in increased nasal and respiratory secretions and coughing. Inflammation of lining tissue of the respiratory system may follow repeated exposure to high levels of dust with increased risk of bronchitis and pneumonia. Pre-existing upper respiratory and lung diseases including asthma and bronchitis may be aggravated.
The product contains a proportion of respirable free crystalline silica. Long term occupational over-exposure or prolonged breathing-in (or inhalation) of crystalline silica dust at levels above the NES carries the risk of causing serious irreversible lung disease, including bronchitis, and silicosis (scarring of the lung), including acute and/or accelerated silicosis. It may also increase the risk of other irreversible and serious disorders including scleroderma (a disease affecting the skin, joints, blood vessels and internal organs) and other auto-immune disorders.
Inhalation of dust, including crystalline silica dust, is considered by medical authorities to increase the risk of lung disease due to tobacco smoking.
Crystalline silica (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite from occupation sources) has been classified by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). However (in view of CCAA) the research on this is inconclusive and ASCC/NOHSC had not classified crystalline silica as a carcinogen.
Current research indicates there is no excess risk of lung cancer or other cancers from using these products.
Studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of bronchitis, silicosis and lung cancer in persons exposed to crystalline silica. Source 1

What is Crystalline Silica and Silica Dust?

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica.
Cristobalite and tridymite are two other forms of crystalline silica. All three forms may become respirable size particles when workers chip, cut, drill, or grind objects that contain crystalline silica.


Initial exposure to silica dust will cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat like most other dusts. However, if excessive amounts of silica dust are breathed into the lungs over a period of time, it can cause damage to the lung tissue. Other than some breathlessness during exercise, the disease can remain free of symptoms for 10-20 years after exposure.

The most common form of silicosis develops after long exposure to relatively low concentrations. Once the disease has begun, it will progress slowly but relentlessly even if the worker is removed from further exposure. There is no medical treatment for silicosis. People with silicosis are also at greater risk of developing lung cancer. In 1996 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified crystalline silica dust as a human carcinogen.

Sources: UnionSafe

36 thoughts on “Lilydale Quarry”

  1. As a resident living along the fenceline of the Unimin Lilydale quarry, I can recommend that you attend the Community Consultative Committee meetings. Unimin hold these meetings every two to three months, and any grievances I have had with the quarrying activities have been alleviated once I knew who to speak to. Often in attendance at these meetings is a member of the EPA, the DPI and sometimes even the local council. If you are interested, I can find out the date of the next meeting and let you know, as I believe there is one in November 08.

  2. The next community meeting is on Wednesday 12th November at 6:30pm. Simply turn up at reception at the Unimin site, next to the railway line on Melba Avenue. The meeting usually finishes around 8pm. Refer to for further details.

  3. I’m looking to top up the driveway over xmas as its starting to ware a bit thin i live in kinglake I haven’t measured it yet but I’d say about 30mts x 2mts min. i just want a quote at the moment and the best way about going about it
    Thanks Gary

  4. This quarry has been in Lilydale since 1878 and has been the life blood of the community for most of that time, four generations of my family have proudly worked there and I have over the years listened to newcomers to the area complain about the noise from blasting, the dust, that it is an eyesore etc, etc. When you purchased your property it was there for all to see it is not like they hidden under a blanket and then miraculously it appeared is it. You should have done a bit more research into the area you choose to live possibly that is why the land was cheaper than elsewhere. The same goes for the residents around the Montrose quarry that are constantly trying to close that down. Let these people continue to quarry this integral part of Lilydale history without constant complaints. Go back and sue the property developers and leave the quarry alone.

  5. The point of my original post was in regards to the dust and the simple fact It is dangerous. It is not targeting Unimin or the Quarry itself as the sole issue.
    A couple of facts to point out:

    From my post which answers your “Should have done more research”;
    “I know the quarry was located here long before any housing estates were established but surely any health and environmental impact upon humans would have been researched fully prior to any sort of development?”

    House prices and Rates are significantly higher in the Lakeview Estate compared with Lilydale average.

    The Quarry has grown considerably in size since we have been living in the Estate. An example being the Ayers Rock shaped mound where most of the dust seems to stem from.

    According to the documents on Dust levels have doubled since 2005.

  6. Updated article to include The CCC web site.

    The only issue I have personally is whether the dust produced is actually a significant health hazard. If it isn’t, so be it. I am definitely not trying to step on anyone’s livelihood or job – far from it.

  7. I contacted the EPA in regards to any updates to the Environmental Audit that I linked in this article and was told there has been no updates at all. Considering the nature of the audit and the significant health impact on the surrounding areas I find this completely bizarre, if not negligent.

    The Audit states: “The stream monitoring program is scheduled to start
    in February 2007, following the implementation of improved sediment controls. The program will continue for a period of up to two years.
    The licence has also been amended to require Unimin to submit a revised environmental improvement plan (EIP)…”

    Unimin looks like they have increased activity in trying to reduce the environmental issues, the issue is the Quarry has grown far beyond the 2007 audit.

    For my own peace of mind the dust created should be analysed as it contains “Crystalline silica” which is classified by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans.

    I will be forwarding photographic evidence to the contrary of what this report was proposing both to the local council and EPA. It will be interesting hearing a response.

  8. AzzX – You write:

    “The obvious cause of the problem is the incredible amount of dust in this estate and surrounding areas, all of which seem to originate the Lilydale quarry.

    After a trip interstate, all our symptoms vanished which led me to some quick googling.”

    Why is the quarry the obvious cause? I’ll bet there are many other environmental factors that you didn’t experience before moving to your current home. For most people in cases like yours the causes of allergies turn out to be something inside your house, such as carpets, furnishings, curtains and the like. Have you had them tested to the same extent you want to test the quarry?

    I’ve lived near the quarry for over 35 years. I knew it had been there for over 100 years before I moved in. If there was a major problem, thousands of people over that long period would have been affected. Have you noticed where the High School is?

  9. The Quarry has grown exponentially over the last 5 years – I guess this does not help. The dust is the biggest reason people are selling up in this area. (Friends in Real Estate) My outside glass table can be cleaned one day, the next it is full of dust – Not to mention the constant vacuuming inside the house.

    The High School was outlined as a problem area in that EPA report – It just hasn’t been followed up.

    I don’t believe Unimin to be at fault in this regard, based on the current issues, It seems the local Shire of Yarra Ranges council hasn’t acted on the communities behalf and the EPA is difficult to get information out of.

    The current situation is a potential Erin Brockovich waiting to happen. In this day and age it is just strange.

    • The dust problem is about to become a bigger problem. I have just been told by Ian McLeod that the overburden will be 20mtrs higher. The residents have been lied to about the quarry expansion. When we moved in we were told by staff at the quarry that the area behind the houses that are affected will flattend out and trees and grass would be planted. This has now become a moral and health issue. I just might be your Erin Brockovich. We need numbers at the meeting which I am now trying to do. So wish me luck.

    • The next meeting is 14th October at 6pm. Ian Mcleod is coming to my house at first to discuss the quarry expansion with me. I rang EPA and they emailed me the buffer zone requirements. I am doing more investigating and contacting our local council rep. My Father-inlaw worked for the MONTROSE QUARRY for years and said that the quarry always wins out. They do not care about the residents. They just see us as whingers. EPA is week and non commital.

  10. Why no response to my comment on other possible causes of allergies?

    You have presented no more evidence that the quarry is the cause. Just continued to blame it.

    Dust on a table (during a drought) is hardly evidence.

    Was any cement used in building your house? How do you think it is made? Where will it come from if you close down the Lilydale quarry? Will you complain about the higher price? The lost jobs?

  11. If we go on holiday – Allergies disappear – I have already stated this.

    I am happy for the EPA to analyse the dust, or I will do this myself.

    I have picture evidence of the dust from the Quarry, I’ll post them to this page when I get home.

    The local Shire council is partly to blame on this issue for failing to act to the concerns of residents.

    Some of the Pro Quarry comments on here come from Unimin employees, I am all for a constructive argument but trying to pass yourself of as local resident is deceiving.

    The Quarry expansion is unknown to 99% of residents in the area as is the danger posed by the quarry itself.

  12. Re the allergies:

    From my earlier post – “For most people in cases like yours the causes of allergies turn out to be something inside your (new) house, such as carpets, furnishings, curtains and the like. Have you had them tested to the same extent you want to test the quarry?”

    BTW – I am neither a Unimin employee nor a lover of our current Shire Council. And if the quarry is breaching any rules, I agree that they should be prosecuted.

  13. Since its been raining, my kids have been fine. Definitely not an issue in the House.

    The Quarry still has an unresolved EPA test which as a concern as it is way past the cutoff date of the original EPA report.

  14. Updated with some pics of the overburden, I am so over this issue and considering moving, unfortunately the Quarry Mountain view has not only de-valued our property, we would struggle to sell it at all.

    I wonder if the Shire would allow a rate decrease?

  15. Just a quick follow up to my first post, I am not a Unimin employee although some of my family are still employed there, as for the council I am far from a council lover. I am simply stating the fact that the quarry was in place well before you decided to move next to it and start complaining about a piece of Lilydale history.

    As for rates being higher than the rest of Lilydale I doubt that is true in my case and for dust we have a dirt road that is continually covered with rock from the quarry and we have enormous amounts of dust I am yet to develop any cancers. My Grandfather, father, uncles and cousins all have worked there and all have lived into their late seventies and eighties and did not die of those related problems. I would imagine that employees especially those who worked there in the days when a face mask consisted of a damp hanky across their nose and face well before face masks were the norm would have suffered before a resident a few hundred metres away would. If there were carcinogenic dusts wouldn’t the workers have suffered from it years ago.

    I suggest you give Erin Brockovich a call she was out here recently trying to drum up business. Who knows they could make a movie about it and you will be rich and famous!!!

    Devalued your home give me a break, how can the over burden that has been there the whole time devalue your home? Do us all a favour get a agent in and whack a For Sale sign up outside your dust affected home and move a long, long way away.

    • EDIT: I have changed the post to reflect my current feelings on this issue and will no longer participate on the topic. Not really interested in Starting a war of words as that never seems to do good to anyone.


    • In response to Brian, why are Uniman workers required to wear a breathing aparatus if lime is not hazardous? I understand you have a vested interest in the quarry but you are not helping Unimins cause at all with those immature insults.

      I found this site whilst doing some research into Lilydale property and yes, the Quarry has increased housing appraisals 4 fold. I suggest you drive by and have a look at the overburden.

  16. i must say to those of you who argue against those unhappy about dust and EPA levels, definitely seem to have an agenda. this is from an outsider who knows the quarry and understands the issues as presented here. i would have to say if these protagonists are not representing the quarry, and do not work for the quarry and have no interest apart from the obvious job/lives that are supported by works at this quarry, i don’t think i quite understand. i’d say it is an easily established fact that levels of dust etc are linked to the quarry, along with other unsafe things for humans. why defend the quarry at all ? the EPA will provide definitive facts, and while the quarry may always win, there will be no question that the dust etc does damage. its akin to phillip morris denying cigarettes cause cancer. so unless you have a direct interest in the quarry, and are trying to stave off liability, there is no point – other than of course, in order to be argumentative. if the only reason you debate with people who are being affected (their claim until ratified), you should declare first that you are only arguing to inflame the situation. that way, everyone will know not to bother with you. if however, there is some other reason, declare your interest.

  17. I reinstated the original content of this post thanks to Brian’s insightful hypotheses into my intelligence.

    I have spoken to the EPA on a few occasions in regards to the issue but they refer you to the DPI and ironically Unimin. The DPI works for industry not the community and referring you on without investigation goes against the EPA’s own policies which just strikes me as odd.

  18. Hi AzzX,
    I’m a Journalism student in my final year at Monash University, and am investigating the Lilydale Quarry. I noticed, despite concerns, the EPA has not audited or investigated the Quarry since March 2006. I’m interested in any information or troubles you have. I plan to have this story published. I look forward to your response.


  19. Sorry I haven’t responded, I only just noticed the new comment. – I have been on holiday and feel fantastic.

    The EPA represent the community though they palm you off to the DPI who definitely do not have any interest with the concerns of a small community. After all, they represent Industry bodies hence the name. To be honest I am a bit over the whole issue though it highlights various issues with the EPA and local council.

    Based on the height of the mound of dirt piling up at the Quarry, I may do the same in my backyard and create a sort of mountain as it is obviously acceptable by our Councils standards.

  20. I don’t understand what you want??
    Do you want the quarry to stop opperating now that you have decided to move in near it?
    If you have concerns for your or your families health why do you wait for the EPA to substantiate your fears, i know what I would be doing and thats moving.
    Lets look at this from another angle, you decided to buy/build your house close to an established quarry, ,most likely to save a few bucks, now you complain about the quarry (or your choice to live near it), your have health fears because of the quarry (or your choice to live near it), you blame the council, EPA and developers for increased amounts of dust that you experience due to (your choice)living near a quarry??
    What do you really want? Reads like, sounds like and smells like someone wants a cash settlement.

    No I’m not pro-quarry, nor do I have any financial interest, I do however feel all pepole need to take responsibility for their own actions, if you are no longer happy with your choice of purchasing the cheaper land/house next to a working quarry then the answer is simple, move!

  21. You obviously didn’t read the original post or any of the comments so making assumptions is a bit immature.

    The biggest issue is with the overburden which is a 15 meter dumping of dirt and dust right on the border of our estate which wasn’t there when we moved in. It also wasn’t there 4 years ago. According to council Law, this in itself is illegal without CONSENT – Pure a simple, in fact it really doesn’t get any simpler.

    The area itself was fine until someone approved this overburden, and this someone consists of the Council and the EPA.

    The area used to be prime Real Estate in the Lilydale region, it was definitely not cheaper than the mean when we bought it so assuming we bought cheap property is rather shortsighted and your whole comment reads like the other generic pro quarry comments, that being no substance to you arguments.

    Your answer is move – Yeah its that simple, Just move LOL, too easy, why do you have so much interest in this one blog page?

  22. Hi all,
    I have recently completed a 3 month investigation on the issue. I have conducted long interviews with Evelyn MP Christine Fyffe, Lilydale quarry site manager Brian Stokes, the Shire of Yarra Ranges Council and residents. If anyone wants to discuss what I’ve found out, I’m happy to come to the area for a chat. I had planned to meet with the residents I’ve already talked with to debrief them. I will be returning from overseas in late June, so please email me after that time at if you would like any more information.
    Christine, thanks for your post. I’m very surprised about what you’ve been told. I was given the impression that the Lilydale quarry planned to be in action for a long time to come. Please contact me if you’d like information from this situation, or if you have any more information for me.

    • Hi Ashley, thanks for the updates.

      Reading that was rather disconcerting as it was obvious by Mr Stokes comments that Unimin puts profits before health. There is either Crystalline Silica in the mound or there isn’t, such a blasé response makes my blood crawl. The video captures a residents experiences and the dust issues rather nicely though when it comes the the Yarra Ranges, the EPA and the DPI, ignorance is bliss when it comes to such evidence.

      We have been lucky in regards to the weather in the last few months, kids have been free of hay fever type symptoms due to the levels of rain. Unfortunately last weeks gale force wind seemed to have an immediate affect on myself and my youngest which we took to the doctor he was so bad, the docs response being he had an adverse allergy to something…. hmmm wonder what it could be?

      To enforce the issue with the council, residents banding together and refusing to pay rates would have more a direct impact – especially considering the dubious legality of this council rate tax anyway.

      Anyway I am off to build a 15 meter tower in my back yard……

  23. I am local artist,recently visited limeworks hoping to take photos for painting project,was flatly refused entry,explained to security that20 years ago I would paint on the premises and the workers would bring me cups of tea which were much appreciated. How things have changed !@# not only I couldn’t take photos in the boundries but in the short time I was there I found on leaving that my eyes were stinging! I suspect due to the excesive dust particles in the air ,Oh yes how things have changed. Anyway I did take photos in that I returned a 6 0’clock next morning through the gaps of the security fence at the main entrance ,did the painting,won best landscape award in a major art competition. I am thinking of approaching local press with a bit of a spiel on the whole experience,what do you think guys? Chicko

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