First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
Italy's Botticino marble is world famous but extracting the material calls for some heavy duty machines. ABE reports
Botticino marble from Italy's northern Brescia region has been made world famous through its use on monuments such as the Ara Pacis in Rome and Grand Central Station in New York. But extracting this highly-prized, ivory-coloured marble known as Botticino Classico takes considerable skill and effort as well as the right machines.
Botticino Quarry Operators' Cooperative relies on two recently delivered New Holland
E485B hydraulic excavators to help improve operations and meet demand for the marble. These machines are the prime movers in the operation and are capable of lifting blocks weighing up to 30tonnes each.
While the marble deposit has been worked since the 19th century, Botticino Quarry Operators' Cooperative was established in 1932 and now employs 50 people - some are descendants of the quarry's founders. Although the quarry is steeped in history, the company is keen to invest in modern production techniques and it was this strategy that led to the investment in the two excavators, with the first delivered in 2008 and the second last year.
Planning supervisor Sergio Romagnoli explained that every excavator must work around extremely steep slopes, sometimes greater than 40%, and handle blocks of marble that can weigh up to as much as 30tonnes, for 1,200 hours annually. Conditions in the quarry are demanding but he added that the manoeuvrability and reliability of the 50tonne New Holland machines means that the task is completed smoothly and easily.
"For an excavator working in a quarry like this one here in Botticino the arm is everything," explained New Holland's Guglielmo Perona. "It has to be extremely strong to be used as a lever for moving huge loads. It has to resist when it is tearing marble out of the mountain. To do so, the E485B has an arm and penetrators that have been redesigned and strengthened at the points of greatest stress to prolong the life of the equipment." According to Perona, great improvements have been made to the E485B's structure over the years, with a completely new design that improves the centre of gravity of the equipment. "The hydraulic pistons were also reinforced to reduce shocks and recoils," he said. "Finally, among the most important characteristics of this machine are the double-tread tracks that provide perfect traction for steep terrain that is common in quarries." The excavators are also helping the Botticino Quarry Operators' Cooperative to improve productivity and reduce operating costs, according to New Holland. The E458B excavator is powered by a fuel efficient 258kW diesel engine, which combined with the advanced hydraulics helps to ensure optimum productivity with fast cycle times on site.
The machines being used by the Botticino Quarry Operators' Cooperative were supplied by the Maren-CMO dealership in Curno, Bergamo. It was the company's sale and rental facilities, along with mobile mechanic and service capabilities that gave the quarry the confidence to invest in the new equipment.