What do you picture when you hear the word “quarry?” More than likely, the word conjures up an image of a large pit filled with rocks. And the truth is, you are not far off from reality. Quarries produce various types of crushed rock, gravel, and sand that are used in a variety of ways. They are essential for construction, landscaping as well as agriculture.
It is easy for most of us to take quarries for granted. We may never think about them unless they are mentioned on TV or in a movie. However, quarries are run by skilled men and women who are crucial to our daily operations. From building roads to supplying materials for homes and buildings, quarrying is an underrated process. Keep reading to learn more about quarries and this process.
The process of quarrying
Quarrying involves removing the rock or sand found in the land selected. In this process, minerals are taken from the ground and used to produce other materials, typically for construction purposes. The process of quarrying is essential to many industries, and the materials taken from quarries are used to create roads and buildings, provide agriculture with minerals, and serve as decorative stone for commercial and residential landscape projects.
Quarries produce a wide range of sand, gravel, crushed rock, and minerals. Common materials found in quarries include the following:
The Four phases of quarrying
There are multiple stages involved in quarrying, and the process of extracting rock from the ground is not as simple as you may think. First, a quarry must be thoroughly surveyed so that an engineer can design a plan. Then, the materials are blasted or dug out of the bank. larger stones are put through a series of crushers to produce smaller sized rocks. After this the stone is screened and or washed before being loaded into a truck for delivery. We’ve broken down each phase with more detail below.
The blasting phase of the quarrying process is probably the most exciting. It is also the most dangerous and involves considerable planning by highly skilled professionals. An explosives engineer is typically responsible for designing the blast, including where to put shot holes. The main goal is to carry out the blast in a way that is both safe and efficient. They must allot the right amount of explosives for bulges or hollows and accommodate the unique features of the quarry.
Once the blast’s design is finalized, a drilling contractor is responsible for drilling the shot holes. This professional must drill holes in the appropriate places and match the angle and depth required. The shot holes are inspected to ensure that they line up with the design of the blast from the explosives engineer.
Explosives are delivered on the day the blast is scheduled. Detonator cord and high explosives are loaded into each shot hole as required by the blast design. The entire quarry site is cleared and sirens are used to warn anyone nearby about the blast. After a final safety check, the shotfirer will set off the explosives in the shot holes. One blast is enough to break up more than 60,000 tons of rock.
Once the ledge has been blasted, a jaw crusher is used to reduce the size of the rocks collected from the quarry. The jaw crusher will take pieces of rock sometimes up to 4 feet in size and reduce the stone down to 1 foot or less. After this, the large pieces of rock will run through the jaw crusher again and the smaller pieces will move onto a machine called a cone crusher. The cone crusher will take rock up to 10 inches in size and reduce the pieces of crushed stone down to anywhere from a quarter of an inch to 3 inches.
This crushing equipment is extremely heavy duty and very expensive to purchase, maintain and operate. The crushing process produces rock and gravel in varying shapes and sizes. This process is essential to adjusting the size of the rocks to be useful for construction, landscaping and agriculture projects. After the crushing operation, screens are then used to separate the different size options of bulk rock.
Rock is removed from the blast site or bank and taken to a series of large machines. The rock then goes through a screening operation to sift out the valuable rock, gravel, and minerals. During screening, finer materials like sand and stone dust from the blast will drop through the screens of the machine and be dumped into a stockpile by a separate conveyor belt. Material that is screened out in this phase is often referred to as scalpings, and it is usually incorporated as rock fill. This is also where sand will be separated from the stone for a large variety of uses. The fine screenings are also mixed with stone to make a material called process, or as some call it, crusher run. Process is used as a compaction material to provide a strong base for construction products. Every driveway, sidewalk and road in America that is paved or has concrete poured most likely has a form of process below.
Washing is not performed at every quarry, however, this process does increase the quality of the finished product. Most decorative stones must be washed to display the desired colors. However, washing can be a very expensive operation to run. Thousands of gallons of water per minute must be pumped from a good water source to the wash plant to properly clean the stone. Multi-Colored River Rock goes through an extensive screening and washing process to produce the high quality that landscape yards require. Washing is performed by a series of water jets spraying high pressure water onto the stone. While the water is being sprayed, the rock is being agitated by a shaking deck to ensure all sides of the rock is properly cleaned. The run off of dirty water coming off the clean rock must then return to a pond to ensure all dirt, sand and other silty materials will not contaminate the environment.
Where to buy quarry materials
If you are interested in purchasing multi-colored river rock or any other stone products you can save a considerable amount of money and frustration by purchasing directly from the source. DeFeo Materials provides Discount River Rock and other high quality, bulk decorative rock for directly from our quarries to clients on the east coast. These materials are ideal for landscaping and decorative stone thanks to their polished texture and the selection of colors and sizes. Contact DeFeo Materials at www.discountriverrock.com to learn more about their bulk hauling services, Wholesale aggregates, palletized stone and specialty products that can be very difficult to find.