Quarrying is the process of removing rock, sand, gravel or other minerals from the ground in order to use them to produce materials for construction or other uses. So, a quarry is any such working on the surface of the earth where minerals are extracted. Quarries are also known by other names around the world: 'surface mine', ‘pit’, 'open pit' or 'opencast mine'. Within the UK, the largest quantity of mineral extracted by quarrying is used for construction and known as "aggregates".
Here are the answers to some common questions asked about quarrying:
What is the difference between a mine and a quarry?
In the UK a 'mine' is defined legally as an underground working and a 'quarry' as a site of mineral extraction without a roof. In other parts of the world, the world, ‘mining’ is used interchangeably with ‘quarrying’.
The term 'quarrying' is often associated with a place where natural stone is extracted to produce building stone or dimension stone and the name is thought to be derived from the latin 'quadraria' which described such a place.
The term 'mining' was similarly associated with places where minerals were extracted to produce metals or coal.
What is the Quarrying Process?
What do quarries produce?
Quarries principally produce sand and gravel and crushed rock for construction and these materials are usually described as’ aggregates’.
Materials produced by quarries:
- Chemical grade Limestoe
- Common Clays
- China Clay
- Ball Clays
- Silica sand
Thus, quarries are often associated with process plants the most important of which are ready-mixed-concrete plants, coating plants to produce asphalt and bituminous road-making materials, cement and lime burning kilns, concrete block and pipe works, brick works, pottery works and plaster/plasterboard factories.
If you are searching for more information on minerals, please take a look at our fast fact sheets for minerals that give you all the basic information you need.
Why do we need quarries?
The materials produces by quarrying are essential to our everyday lives, providing the construction materials to build roads and buildings, delivering vital minerals to agriculture and supporting the generation of electricity – to name just a few uses.
It is tempting to see a quarry as an undesirable ‘hole in the ground’ but we need our quarrying industry to supply us with vital materials for our economy. Furthermore, we need talented, professional women and men to operate quarries in a way that is safe, productive and good for our environment.
What careers are available in quarrying?
Quarrying is an industry with plenty of opportunity and if you join the Institute of Quarrying we are committed to providing you with training and recognition. If quarrying is something that has took your interest visit our quarrying faces to see the types of careers available in quarrying.