Volvo helps extract rich reward at Treasure Mountain, Colorado
First publishedin Aggregates Business International
Volvo excavators at work in the high altitude Rocky Mountains
An Italian company is using a fleet of Volvo Construction Equipment machinery to revive a dormant US marble quarry, cited as a rival to the Italian marbles of classic notoriety.
Colorado’s Yule marble is one of the purest marbles ever quarried, and has adored many legendary monuments and buildings, including the Lincoln Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Its almost snowy whiteness and uniformity once made it a sought after stone, but quarrying the Yule marble was deemed uneconomical due to its remote location, and by the mid-20th century production in the state ceased and remained dormant for nearly 50 years.
However, excavation of the stone is experiencing a renaissance, thanks to Carrara-based R.E.D. Graniti, one the leading stone producers in Italy, which assumed ownership of the Colorado Yule marble quarry in 2011.
R.E.D Graniti operates the quarry in the city of Marble, Colorado, under the name of Colorado Stone Quarries.
Today, it holds all mineral rights to a 26 hectacres of land, known as Treasure Mountain, rich in high quality marble.
During the assessment of the quarry, general manager Daniele Treves and quarry master, Stefano Mazzucchelli located a new vein of stone, and to access this the Lincoln Gallery (named after the Lincoln Memorial) was unearthed. This new vein, Calacatta Lincoln, is now the top-selling stone worldwide for R.E.D. Graniti.
“We calculate that we have 1.5 million m3 of marble remaining here,” says Treves.
To meet the growing demand of the Calacatta Lincoln marble, Colorado Stone Quarries employs a crew of 40 in its year-round operations. Because the stone is extracted with precision cuts, rather than blasting, the company relies on a fleet of 30 machines. Including Volvo L350F, L330E, L120E and L90E wheeled loaders; an ECR58D compact short swing radius excavator; EC340D and EC480D crawler excavators, and an A35D ADT.
The Volvo L350F wheeled loader handles the marble blocks
Inside the Lincoln Gallery, crews work on two levels. On the lower level, after the initial cuts are made, a Volvo EC340D or EC480D excavator slides deftly into place and uses its bucket teeth to loosen the stones, gently placing them onto the gallery floor for the L350F wheeled loader to load out.
Once the large blocks are removed, a Volvo L90E wheeled loader with pallet forks repositions the saw for the next round of cuts. On the second level, the marble blocks are skilfully sliced from the rock face and extracted using the block forks on the L350F.
“Both of the L350F loaders have the Volvo standard duty block handler kit and forks, which can carry up to 29,483kg (65,000lb),” says Troy Langston, from the Volvo CE dealership Power Equipment Company, based in nearby Grand Junction, Colorado.
Colorado Stone Quarries replaced its entire fleet of equipment when it purchased the mines, and Langston says that the Volvo 16litre engine produces higher torque at a low rpm.
“On fuel costs alone, Colorado Stone Quarries can save US$70,000 (€63,500) over four years on each L350F,” he says.
Once the marble blocks are selected and carved from the face, they are washed and trimmed to size. Each block is inspected and approved, and then loaded onto flatbed semi-trucks and hauled to a logistics stockyard in Delta, Colorado. From there, the majority are sent by rail to Norfolk, Virginia, and transferred to containers ready for shipping to Italy.
The Volvo EC340D is part of a 30-strong machine fleet working at the quarry
When the stone arrives in Carrara, it is sold to companies specialising in the supply of cut-to-size material for projects all over the world.
R.E.D. Graniti’s marble expert, Marco Pezzica, travels to Colorado several times a year to inspect and cherry-pick the blocks that are ultimately exported.
In addition to Calacatta Lincoln, Treasure Mountain also yields Statuario Colorado and Calacatta Golden.
Pezzica describes a perfect example of Calacatta Lincoln as bold white with brown and gray veining and slight brownish fading of the surrounding veins.
“This is what makes our material famous, and expensive, and the only place in the world we produce exactly the same type of stone as the original in Carrara is here in Colorado,” he says.