Expert views

Professor Peter Sly

The Maroochydore Sands project was recently reviewed by World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Children’s Health and Environment director Professor Peter Sly. Here are his views on the sand-extraction proposal:

“Having reviewed the operations of the sand-extraction process and the extensive environmental impact assessment, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • The proposed sand-extraction process is not a sand mine.
  • There is no risk to children’s health from the sand-extraction process as there is no increased risk of exposure to dust likely to contain silica.
  • The reduced distance travelled by diesel-fuelled trucks is likely to reduce overall exposure to health-harming diesel particulates.”

About Professor Peter Sly

Professor Peter Sly is recognised internationally in the area of Children’s Environmental Health. He currently directs the Children’s Health and Environment Program at QCMRI, The University of Queensland; is on the Advisory Board for a long standing WHO – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Collaborative Agreement; is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health; and is an advisor to the WHO, Public Health and Environment Section. Professor Peter Sly is a NH&MRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and a paediatric respiratory physician with extensive research experience in respiratory physiology.

Professor Peter Sly is focused on identifying and developing preventative strategies for children at greatest risk of childhood lung disease. His research aims to understand the mechanisms underlying chronic childhood lung diseases in order to improve clinical management and to delay or prevent their onset, with consequent reductions in adult lung diseases.

Dr Maurice Heiner

Respected thoracic physician Dr Maurice Heiner declared the project safe after he assessed it. In a letter written to the proponents, Dr Heiner said “there is no need for community concern about the health risks associated with the Maroochydore Sands project”. Dr Heiner said since there was no mechanical drying of sand and no dry screening of sand, there would be no problems associated with silica particles.

Read views of thoracic physician Maurice Heiner.

About Dr Maurice Heiner

Dr Maurice Heiner is a thoracic physician, who specialises in sleep and respiratory medicine. He has special interests in lung cancer, asthma, asbestosis related diseases and sleep medicine. Dr Heiner is a director of the Queensland Respiratory Laboratory and has an interest in intensive care medicine.

Dr Heiner has been in private practice in Australia for 25 years and prior to that practiced in Canada. He has five fellowships and is a member of the Royal Australian College of Physicians as well as the College of Chest Physicians in America. Dr Heiner received his medical degree from the University of Queensland and undertook postgraduate training in pulmonary, sleep and intensive care medicine at the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta in addition to training periods in US hospitals.

Robbins Technology Group founder Reg Robbins

Reg Robbins has been involved in the development and construction of sand plants, in Australia and around the world, for almost five decades.

The mineral sands industry veteran declared the Maroochydore Sands project “low key” when he looked at it recently, pointing out the difference between the planned sand extraction plant and a sand mine.

Mr Robbins also highlighted the quiet nature of the plant, which will be electrically powered.

Robbins Technology Group is a multidiscipline technology business specialising in providing services to the mineral sands industry. The company has been engaged by all the major producers in the sector since it started operating and has completed projects in 12 countries overseas.

Glen Tickle, landowner

Sunshine Coast resident Glen Tickle has owned the land earmarked for the Maroochydore Sands development for about 12 years.

Mr Tickle, who has been grazing cattle on the land off Maroochydore Road since he bought it, believes it is important that people understand the true nature of the project proposed for the site.

He pointed out that most people will be unaware the project is even operating when they travel past the site on Maroochydore Road.