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Lime fertiliser quarrying operation has growth potential for new owners

Tags: Commercial

One of the North Island’s biggest lime quarries and farm fertiliser production plants has been placed on the market for sale.

Brown’s Lime Quarry near Dannevirke is a 12.8-hectare open cast lime pit producing two grades of crop and pasture enhancing fine lime for aerial and ground spreading, in conjunction with coarser lime gravel for use in cattle races and roading.

The Southern Hawke’s Bay quarry has been operating since 1994 – servicing dairying and sheep and beef farms in Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Rangitikei and Wanganui regions. The company leases bulk lime storage facilities in Dannevirke and Wanganui.

The quarry’s parent company runs a vertically-integrated business – quarrying and extracting the lime, crushing and drying it to various degrees of granular sizes, and marketing the finished product under the consumer label Brown’s Quality Lime.

Brown’s Quality Lime premium-grade lime wholesales for $31 a tonne, while standard-grade lime wholesales for $25 a tonne. Course race-grade lime rock wholesales for $16 a tonne, while large rocks and boulders commonly used for landscaping and soil retaining purposes wholesale for $52 a tonne.

The fully consented freehold quarry land, crushing/drying plant and heavy quarrying machinery, and retail business as a going concern, are now being marketed for sale for $1.75 million through Bayleys Napier. Salesperson Rodger Howie said that with dairy and meat farms constantly looking for more environmentally-friendly ways of increasing grass and pasture management procedures, the practice of lime application had grown substantially over the past decade.

“Browns Quarry is estimated by mining analyst company Arcadia Resources Ltd to contain between five and seven million tonnes of lime. The highest annual lime production from the quarry in the past 20 years has been 35,000 tonnes, so there is still plenty of rock which is prime for excavation, crushing and direct sales to the consumer,” Mr Howie said.

“It’s unlikely this quarry will run out of lime in the foreseeable future as the existing face and cuttings are exposing substantial depth and width of commercial high grade lime.

“Brown’s Lime Quarry has a distinct market advantage - being the only lime producing quarry in the North Island which uses a drying plant in the processing. This process makes its lime the most even-spreading and free flowing lime on the market.

“Customers – who are predominantly farmers – phone in their orders directly through to the quarry operators for processing and delivery. The company has a database of some 300 customers - with some 25 percent rated as ‘regulars’,” said Mr Howie.

“The hourly lime production rate utilising current plant is up to 70 tonnes per hour – being run along a small owner/operator business model - employing the owner and two other full-time personnel. With existing open cast excavation infrastructure and faces in place, and room for the addition of more plant and machinery, there is considerable potential to bolster output levels.

Lime is the most common soil preparation used on New Zealand farms, and is applied primarily to neutralise acidification in the soil. Acidification occurs in all farmed soils - caused by normal biological processes, such as nitrogen fixation, nitrate leaching and photosynthesis.

The more intensively land is farmed, the greater the rate of acidification. The process is also accelerated by higher rainfall, due to increased leaching. Browns Lime Quarry is certified under the Fertiliser Quality Council’s FERTMARK quality control programme for producing high quality agricultural lime with more than 90 percent calcium.

“With numerous drought and near-drought scenarios impacting on Lower North Island regions over the past decade, water retention in soil has become ever more critical for farmers, and is one of the reasons why Brown’s Lime Quarry has prospered,” Mr Howie said,

“Use of lime can improve the absorption of rainfall into soil. This can be particularly important on dry hill country with the rain absorbing into the soil faster rather than running off the surface.”

Buildings within Brown’s Lime Quarry comprise a 1440 square metre steel shed housing the crusher, conveyer and dryer unit, while also providing cover for the uncrushed lime and machinery storage. Two smaller sheds and three lockable containers – individually used as an office, small workshop and general storeroom – are also part of the offering.

Plant and machinery assets being sold in association with the quarry include a Cat digger, a loader, dump truck, two crushers, a lime dryer, screening unit, and various tools and spare mechanical parts.

Mr Howie said Brown’s Quarry had the benefit of being surrounded by sheep and beef grazing land, with no residential dwellings in close proximity “so any move to increase production output would have minimal environmental impact.”

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