MATERIALS

What happens in the quarry?

By Marble Unlimited Inc. /

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What happens in the quarry?

Have you ever looked at a picture of a quarry? 

Maybe you have seen photos of Carrara in Italy and found yourself amazed by how the light is reflected over the mountain. Or perhaps you have seen images of cranes extracting beautiful slabs out of tunnels. Doesn't it make you wonder what actually happens in the quarries?

 

 

If your curiosity is piqued, keep reading ahead, we have got the full breakdown of what happens inside these marvelous sites.

In order to obtain the beautiful slabs that will go into your home or business, blocks of stone are pulled out of the mountains or the ground.  There are three different ways in which this can be done: 

 

Open quarry.-  This is the most common one and probably the one you have seen in pictures.  Blocks are extracted from the surface of the quarry by cutting them with a diamond thread blade.

 

Subsurface quarry.-  As this type of quarry is closed, stones are extracted through tunnels. Blocks are carefully drilled and then cut with a diamond blade to ensure the stone doesn’t get damaged.

 

Open-pit mine.-  Think of this quarry as a vertical tunnel.  Blocks are carefully extracted with a diamond thread cutter from the top of the quarry and then pulled down to the ground.

Once blocks are extracted, fragile stones like certain types of marble and rainbow onyx, go through a vacuum process. This means that a cover of resin is applied all around the blocks and vacuumed seal, to protect the stone against any damages when cutting, transporting and placing. 

 

For you to be able to use the stone into any home or exterior application, the blocks need to be cut into 270 cm x 165 cm slabs. Blocks are usually extracted in a 200 m2 dimension. Stone blocks are placed into a gang saw equipped with a diamond blade and water jade cutting technology. The intensity of the cut varies on the hardness of the stone, the process can take from 4 hours up to 10.

Slabs are stacked horizontally, laying flat to avoid any cracks or fissures as they go through several processes that will give them the desired finish.  Some will be polished, others honed, leathered, sandblasted, etc. You can click here to learn about all the finishes we offer at Marble Unlimited.

After the stone is treated, a resin is placed on top of it to give it an extra layer of protection — this is different from the vacuum process, all slabs are sealed with resin to avoid them breaking.  If the stone is very fragile, a thin net is set at the bottom to make it stronger. If by any chance the stone cracks, it could be easily fixed as well.

To properly seal the slab and set the resin placed on top of it, heat needs to be applied. Stone slabs are placed into an oven for drying and are left inside for 8 minutes. However, as water is used to cut the stone into slabs, the inside of the stone will take a few days to fully dry so color might appear a bit dimmer until then.

Once the plates are dry, they are wrapped into packages of 8 or 10 slabs and…  they are ready for transportation!