Quarrying has more to offer than just rocks
First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
While the main purpose of quarrying is to provide high quality products for a wide variety of sectors, the industry now offers so much more.
Road building and other construction work in modern society means there is a voracious demand for aggregates for asphalt and concrete, after water the second most consumed commodity globally by volume.
So, it is fair to say that the aggregates and associated industries are now involved in all aspects of life, and the communities in which they operate. This ranges from giving money to support a local history project; saving endangered species; helping to reduce ‘greenhouse gases’ and promoting safety on a massive scale.
“Working quarries are busy places with many hazards and they are often regarded by the public as visual scars on the scenery. Yet rock can be very beautiful and quarrying exposes it in a fresh, pristine condition. Furthermore, there are few other places, apart from mountain and coastal cliffs, where we can see and understand, on such a large scale, the nature and structure of the rocks that govern our landscapes,” says The Geology Trusts.
While major companies regularly publicise their efforts, which are often recognised at industry events, one wonders whether the wider public is as aware of what is going on at quarries throughout Europe.
In many instances, major operators have signed long-term agreements with organisations on such matters as the environment and quarry restoration, often at considerable cost to themselves.
Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK’s recent €600 donation to an organisation to research the history of towns and villages near its flagship Mountsorrel quarry; Holcim’s €83 million/year to improve group energy efficiency; the return to Britain at quarry restoration sites of the once-extinct bittern and the bird’s booming call, and safety intitiatives such as Wainwright’s Raising the Bar and Breedon Aggregates’ Breedon Basics, are a just a handful of examples of projects. There are many, many more that deserve recognition.
To give more information to the public, some quarries have specially designed information boards that offer a brief history of the site along with details of some of the major initiatives in which they are involved, and details of any days on which a quarry may be open to the public.
So, as operators adjust to the current economic climate, perhaps it is time for the industry to blow its trumpet a bit harder.
As Professor Ian Stewart, geologist and broadcaster, University of Plymouth, said in a talk to the UK Minerals Forum last year: “If there is a failure of the public to fully understand the importance of the industry in which you are concerned it is a failure of the industry to get it across.”
On another, UK-specific note, there seems to be a general industry ‘welcome’ for the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a key part of the government’s reforms to make the planning system less complex and more accessible; to protect the environment and to promote sustainable growth.
What’s not to like when “a bewildering 1,300 pages of guidelines are replaced with a single slimmed-down 52-page document.”