August 21, 2017

Global strategies to streamline quarry operations

Best practices from across the globe were highlighted at the Global Aggregates Information Network (GAIN) meeting held in Cape Town recently which brought together industry representatives from countries across the globe.

Speaking at the meeting, GAIN coordinator, Jim O’Brien, shared his thoughts on the adoption of best practices which can streamline operations to produce more products, more efficiently from the point of extraction through to delivery.

Due to the comparatively high barriers to entry into the quarrying market in terms of capital equipment costs, the cost of compliance, licencing and high road transport costs, quarries can only operate cost effectively within comparatively a local market area up to a 50km radius from the site. It therefore needs to operate efficiently as it has a “captive market” and cannot really look for expansion outside those confines.

Moving forward

He continued that big strides have been made in optimising hard rock blasting techniques and that through study of the geology, correct planning, laser profiling and optimisation efficiencies can be vastly improved. Similarly crushing performance can also be optimised with the use of appropriate technology depending on the size of the operation.

Another area of possible improvement is the correct procurement of mobile plant (loaders, dump trucks) to matching excavators and similarly for loaders to work efficiently with truck logistics. Stockpiling and recovery if done correctly can minimise double/multiple handling which costs money and, furthermore, better sand and gravel winning techniques throughout the plant can develop profitable streams turning waste into saleable products.

It may also pay to look into integrating material supply to additional on-site plants which can be created to process complementary products such as readymix concrete or asphalt plants, precast concrete manufacturing plants, manufactured sand and potentially recycling plants for building rubble. “There are several other industries that have potential synergies with our quarrying activities and can be collocated on our sites.

 Areas of attention

The quarrying industry globally has made great progress in a number of critical areas and information is available to assist companies to optimise various processes. These include:

  • Blasting vibration and over-pressure
  • Ambient noise
  • Fugitive dust and air quality
  • Water management and recycling
  • Fuel and chemical storage
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Good housekeeping, visual impact
  • Transport (testing biofuels)
  • Restoration and after-use
  • Biodiversity and heritage
  • Neighbour and community relations

In closing Jim highlighted the fact that sand and aggregate quarries are of strategic importance and should be recognised as such by role-players, including all levels of Government. “For development to take place we need aggregates and need to ensure that the right resources have been set aside to ensure planned developments can take place in future. These quarries will need to be well managed in terms of good neighbourliness, as well as yield and reserves for the future,” Jim concluded.

Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, Tel: (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email:, Web:



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