The Founding of River Sands Pty Ltd
Market research at the time revealed there were no extractive industries on the Logan River and there was a need for a supplier in the area. So, Peter James, Peter and Bruce Neumann and Robert James (Peter’s son aged 12 at the time) set out to prospect the Logan River in a 13 foot ‘tinny’ with a 20 horsepower motor.
The outcome of the prospecting was that they found sand in the Logan River but decided it would be easier to find a land based deposit. Aerial photographs of the area were studied to identify sand deposits, which was quite innovative in its day. A substantial sand deposit was apparent at Carbrook (south of Brisbane) adjacent to the confluence of the Albert and Logan Rivers.
Long before the first grain of sand was extracted from River Sands’ deposit at Carbrook, a lot of painstaking work had been done and many challenges still had to be overcome.
An in-house drilling program was undertaken to prove that the sand was there and the sand samples were then dried at home in the kitchen oven by Margaret James who screened and weighed every sample in the garage on the table tennis table. “We needed to know the grading of the sand so Margaret was ‘volunteered’ to do this work. The drilling was done by hand and progress was slowed down due to 1974 being an exceptionally wet year”, recalls Peter James.
After quantifying the amount of sand, we went to Albert Shire Council to lodge our rezoning application in June 1974. We were advised that we had to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with our application.
Margaret James recalls typing the first EIS on a borrowed, electric typewriter. “It was the first time I’d used one. I’d been out of the workforce for about 10 years and I had to type it over the weekend. It was a big learning experience at the time for us all.”
The rezoning approval came through in November 1974.
Peter James was a qualified Fitter and Turner and held a Diploma of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, as well as fourteen years working in the sales department of Caterpillar. His background meant he had the wide experience to put the plant and equipment together, as well as being able to communicate well with people, a much needed skill in any business.
The first sand from the deposit was sold in January 1975. It was sold to K.D. Morris in Beenleigh who were in receivership at the time. After some research on the part of the ‘beginners’, the liquidator advised that our payment was guaranteed, much to the relief of us all.