Cross River’s spoil helping to build SEQ

Half of all brick houses built in South East Queensland over the next few years are expected to be made using spoil from Cross River Rail’s tunnels, providing the transformational project with yet another way to shape the region.

Cross River Rail Delivery Authority CEO Graeme Newton said more than 80 per cent of the project’s spoil generated so far has been reused or was being stockpiled to be reused.

“Every effort is made to find and use sustainable methods of reusing spoil taken from project sites,” Mr Newton said.

“In fact, a lot of the spoil generated across our mega project is beneficially reused at other Cross River Rail worksites, including the Mayne Yard and Clapham Yard stabling facilities.

“It also goes to other commercial and residential development sites and has even been used in other transport projects, such as Pacific Motorway upgrades.”

But Mr Newton said one of the most fascinating examples was occurring at Austral Bricks in Rochedale, which was using nearly 60,000 cubic metres of spoil – enough to fill about 24 Olympic swimming pools – generated by the project’s massive Tunnel Boring Machines to make bricks.

“Austral Bricks worked out a specific kind of shale generated by our project suited their needs, and is being used to make bricks right now,” he said.

“Cross River Rail is providing Austral Bricks’ factory, which directly employs 35 people, with enough spoil from our twin tunnels, to make bricks for about six to seven years.

“These bricks will be used to build houses, hospitals and schools, meaning the spoil carved out to build Brisbane’s new underground will help shape the city and the region for years to come.

“In fact, about one in every two brick houses built in South East Queensland will be made from bricks that contain spoil generated by our tunnels.”

Mr Newton said Cross River Rail and its contractors were continually looking to identify opportunities for beneficial reuse of spoil and demolition and construction waste.

Cross River Rail spoil fast facts:

  • About 1.6 million cubic metres of spoil is expected to be generated over the project’s lifespan, with about 1.2 million cubic metres generated so far.
  • The project’s massive Tunnel Boring Machines alone will generate 315,000 cubic metres of spoil.
  • The TBM spoil is collected onto conveyer belts while the mega machines excavate, which moves it to a massive spoil shed at the Woolloongabba site, before it’s transported to various sites.
  • More than 80 per cent of the spoil generated across Cross River Rail’s sites so far has been re-used or is being stockpiled for reuse.
  • Spoil is sent to numerous locations, including Brisbane Airport, Swanbank, Pine Mountain, Larapinta and the Port of Brisbane.
  • Spoil is also reused elsewhere on the project, including Mayne Yard and Clapham Yard, commercial and residential development sites, and other projects such as Pacific Motorway upgrades.
  • Austral Bricks is using 60,000 cubic metres, or 100,000 tonnes, of spoil (about six to seven years’ worth of material) to create bricks to be used for houses and buildings such as schools and hospitals.
  • Austral’s facility has the capacity to make 120 million bricks a year.
  • The spoil acts as a hard inert filler and is blended with numerous other types of plastic clays and shales, and from there is milled down, shaped, dried fired and finally packed down for distribution.
  • The bricks will be used in the domestic market, including across South East Queensland, but Austral also exports millions of bricks a year, mostly to New Zealand and Asia.