About the Industry
Many people have an image of quarries as simply holes in the
ground. But the real story is that, by providing the materials
we need for our homes, hospitals and schools, quarries are essential
to all of our lives. Think what sort of world this would be without
all of the buildings, bridges and roads around you!
Many products we take for granted – from paper to glass,
cosmetics to toothpaste – are made using materials that
come from the nation’s quarries.
There are over 2000 quarries and associated manufacturing sites in the UK. The industry supplies products and services worth £9 billion worth a year. The construction industry, which contributes nearly ten per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product, is totally reliant on mineral products.
So how do we do it? Before quarrying can begin, quarry plans
are assessed very carefully to consider their impact on the environment.
A restoration plan is also agreed for the quarry when work has
finished to ensure that the land that was borrowed is returned
for a beneficial use. There are two main types of land quarries
- rock, and sand and gravel. Rock quarries tend to be longer-term,
deeper and dug on several different levels or “benches”.
Rock is blasted from the ground using carefully controlled explosions,
and is then taken to a crusher, where it is broken down into smaller
pieces and separated into different sizes.
Sand and gravel quarries are usually much shorter-term, shallower
and are restored at the same time as the land is being worked.
Once the soil has been removed, the sand or gravel is dug from
the ground and taken to a processing plant where unwanted clay
or silt is removed and the sand and gravel is separated into different
sizes. Crushed rock or sand and gravel can be mixed with cement
to make ready-mixed concrete, and with a sticky substance called
bitumen to make asphalt for the surfaces of our roads. We can also
draw up sand and gravel from the sea bed using dredging ships
which work out to sea, bringing their material back to wharves
on the coast or river front.
Behind all the work that goes on in the industry are thousands
of skilled people that all play a vital role in providing the
materials we all need every day of our lives.
You can find out more about how we quarry by visiting the www.virtualquarry.co.uk
website for an interactive tour.
If you are interested in finding out about careers in the industry
after you finish your study, have a look at our case
studies or our list of roles.