The Sibelco sand quarry Donk has undergone a major metamorphosis. Quarries, even when still in use, can provide added value for recreation, nature and water buffering. The metamorphosis aimed to strengthen each of these three elements. Because the adjustable weir turns the quarry into a climate pond where water can be buffered. The clever layout of the terrain with a lookout hill and a new footpath not only provides recreational opportunities, but is at the same time a magnet for wild pollinators that can give nature development a big boost.


By installing an adjustable weir at the Donk overflow, it is now possible to buffer water that continuously flows from the Donk quarry into the Witte Nete to be used during dry periods. This weir is part of the KlimaatPlassen demo space within the Blue Deal project Flanders WaterProof, a project led by VITO. In this demo space, VITO, Sibelco, the governor of the province of Antwerp, Pipda, the Flemish government and more partners are working together to find smart solutions for water buffering in this part of the Kempen region. "Sustainability and partnerships are essential for us. This project for and in this region where economy, science, nature and tourism come together is hugely ple'sand' for us and is also in Sibelco's DNA," says Bart Daems, Director Sustainability Central Europe.

"It is good if we can make an impactful contribution together and ensure water security for the future," clarifies Inge Neven, CEO of VITO.

The weir makes it possible to buffer up to 150,000 m³ of water. It also offers the possibility of using the daily overflow flow of about 10,000 m³ as an alternative water source.

In the coming period, we will look at how the buffered water - when not needed to feed the Witte Nete - can be an alternative for the groundwater consumption of local farmers.  "The weir allows the water level to rise by 50 cm," says provincial governor Cathy Berx. "This project is therefore very valuable because it ensures that we are less likely to have to impose a capture ban on farmers, and can give them a greater guarantee of water availability."

Sibelco quarry, example of nature development and landscaping

High-quality quartz sand has been mined at the Sibelco Donk quarry for more than a century. In its surroundings, great efforts have been made in recent years to promote nature development.

The west and north sides of this quarry have now been landscaped to make them not only a particularly attractive destination for walkers, but also an ideal breeding ground for biodiversity.

For instance, heathlands were created along the west side. Ongoing replenishment of the lake with clean soil will cause extensive reed marshes to develop there in the future. In the north-west corner, an adventure path was laid out, opening onto a lookout hill. This vantage point is ideal for bird watchers, who will have a direct view of the many water birds on the quarry lake.

The verges were planted with gorse, a native shrub and typical pioneer on sandy soils. The gorse is a five-star restaurant for bees and butterflies that find nectar there. Sibelco is therefore a partner in the 'Green Deal Wild Pollinators and Diggers'. 


Within the KlimaatPlassen demo space, VITO works together with Governor Cathy Berx, Sibelco, PIDPA, De Vlaamse Milieumaatschappij, Voka Mechelen-Kempen, Province of Antwerp, De Vlaamse Waterweg, Het Agentschap Natuur en Bos, Mol municipality and Dessel municipality.  

Need more info?

Désirée De Poot, press spokesperson VITO, 0475/457010

Press spokesperson