Part One – Our Quarries
Our quarries are the backbone of our company. It's where it all started for us, and they are a fundamental component of our future.
The mineral products industry is an essential and major primary producer in its own right – but it is also locked into the DNA of a whole host of other important industries. As producers we form part of the largest supplier to the construction industry, and sectors such as housing and property along with transport, energy and water infrastructure all rely upon the supply of mineral products of one type or another.
In short, the mineral resources and products we provide are essential to the development and maintenance of UK infrastructure and for the improvement of people’s everyday lives. Take away aggregates and our built environment would quite literally fall apart!
Sand and Gravel Quarrying
Britain’s diverse geology means the country has a variety of mineral resources in the ground. Each has unique properties and can be quarried and processed for a wide variety of essential uses.
In the South, resources are primarily sand and gravel which is what we quarry. Sand and gravel can also be found on the seabed and are landed at various ports around the country for processing. Sand and gravel quarries are shallower than rock quarries because the mineral deposits are usually around 5 metres deep. No blasting is required as the mineral has already been broken down by the action of ice and water over thousands of years.
We currently have three quarries:
In 2021 we processed 547,563 primary sand and gravel and 31,712 tonnes of recycled.
Our sector is the best kept secret in the unique and significant role that quarry restoration plays in long-term nature recovery and conservation. Maybe that’s because by the time a well-restored quarry scheme has come to fruition, most people have forgotten that the site once provided materials for the places where they live, work and play.
Once the mineral (sand and gravel) has been extracted, we then look to restore the site. Restoration is different for every quarry. Some land might require a restoration back to its original state such as agricultural land, like what we have done at our Hurn quarry. Some quarries can be enhanced by making the land better than it was previously. This is the process we are undertaking at our Downton quarry, where we have created seven new lakes for recreational use, introduced 11 new species of birds and created a rich new habitat for bees, bats and butterflies.
If minerals have been quarried in an area of green belt or an area with existing biodiversity, a much more complex restoration might be required. Our Wareham (Masters) quarry is within heathland which is a site of special scientific interest due to the rare and threatened lizards living there. Restoration at Masters follows a very complex translocation plan. As heathland can take hundreds of years to establish, we must move existing land (the area we need to quarry), to an area already quarried and then help the land establish, a bit like turfing a garden.
We are proud of the part we play in our contribution to the re-creation and expansion of most UK Priority Habitats. The high standards of site management coupled with imaginative restoration and after-use strategies will contribute significantly to the achievement of the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.