Plans for a major extension at Glenarm quarry have been given the go-ahead by Environment Minister Mark Durkan this week.
The Article 31 planning application, submitted by multi-national mining company Omya, was for a 23.8 hectare extension to Demesne Quarry.
The development will see a sideways extension of the limestone quarry southwards into Tully Field.
It will also restore Parishagh Quarry for agricultural uses to the original ground level.
The revised application, which was lodged in 2011 and attracted no letters of objection, was deemed to be of such significance that the final decision rested with the Environment Minister.
Mr Durkan said the approval would bring an economic boost for Glenarm and Northern Ireland as a whole, securing jobs existing in the area for 25 years.
He added: “The Ulster White Limestone extracted at this site is very limited in Northern Ireland. The current reserves the company has have almost been exhausted.
“This extension means that this important resource can continue to supply the Irish markets north and south, with a range of white limestone aggregates, sands and fillers.”
The Minister said that while the development during the extraction process would be “obvious” from some parts of the Glenarm river valley, he believed the restoration proposals for Parishagh Quarry and part of Demesne Quarry outweigh this.
“These will result in long term benefits that will visually improve the landscape through the re-establishment of the former landform, land cover and landscape character within these areas,” Mr Durkan continued.
“In making my decision, I also took into consideration that the Tully Field area of the quarry site will remain a prominent feature on the slopes, particularly from elevated view points.
“On balance though I am confident the long-term biodiversity benefits that the restoration proposals will bring will more than compensate for this.
“This decision is further evidence that we have a planning system that delivers for business but not at the expense of our environment, planet or people.
“A system that builds a better environment and a stronger economy,” the Minister concluded.