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Quarrying

Quarrying is the process of extracting minerals, ores and stone from rock deposits in open-pit mines or from underground quarries. These broken pieces of rock are used commercially as building materials. The extracted sand, crushed stone and gravel are used in the construction of roads, paving, curbing, cement, and ceramics and in water filter systems. The extracted stones are also used in tool construction and for decorative purposes like granite bench tops and limestone walls.

Granite and limestone are primarily extracted through the use of explosives, automatic drills and heavy machinery. The rocks can be further crushed to be used in the production of cement or asphalt. Certain types of granite or marble are quarried in large blocks to be used as is.

Types of Rocks Quarried

  • Chalk
  • China clay
  • Cinder
  • Clay
  • Coal
  • Construction aggregate (sand and gravel)
  • Coquina
  • Granite
  • Gritstone
  • Gypsum
  • Limestone
  • Marble
  • Ores
  • Phosphate rock
  • Sandstone
  • Slate

Potential hazards with quarries

Drainage is a problem when groundwater lies near the surface and enters the pit thus interfering with the extraction of the rocks. Continuous pumping of the water outside of the quarry is needed but this can become costly should the water inflow increase. In certain instances dredging may have to be employed, this is where stone cutting continues underneath the water surface.

Workers also need to be cautious of flying stone fragments and rock falls when cutting into the face of the surface rock.

Quarries are often abandoned once work is completed; sometimes being used for landfill but more often being allowed to fill with water. This poses a danger to people enticed to swim in the clear waters as the water can be extremely cold and abandoned equipment and submerged quarry stones can pose a real danger.

Environmental Concerns

Though there are concerns about the environmental impacts of quarrying including the pollution, noise, dust and erosion it causes , due to high demand on construction and an ever-increasing population needing housing, it is imperative quarrying continue.

Conclusion

Quarrying is a necessary procedure to extract stones and minerals to be used in the construction industry. Limestone and granite are the most often stones extracted from a quarry and are used in the production of buildings, roads, pathways, cement, water filter systems, walls and bench tops.

Quarrying has some potential hazards and environmental impacts but most mining operations do extensive research and try to limit the impact on the environment and the communities surrounding the quarry. A great site to visit which has images and videos of quarries and quarrying is Think Quest.

Visit our Construction Sectors page for more information on all the sectors needed to support the resource industry.

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