Spanish Limestone Quarry visit
Last month, Denise and Steve spent two days visiting a limestone quarry in Southern Spain to select slabs for an upcoming project. The architect on the project had specified Crema Palancar, a pale coloured limestone, for the roof terrace.
February and March were exceptionally busy months for us this year. We presented at the Surface Design Show, exhibited at Ecobuild and Homebuilding & Renovating, and several big client projects that had been in the planning stages since before Christmas had just been given the go ahead.
The previous couple of blogs from me have been straight forward reports on the exhibitions and time constraints have meant that I have had to put this one on hold for a while. It's great to finally be able to tell you about the quarry visit that Steve and Denise have been raving about ever since they got back... So, here we go!
As the plane took off from Gatwick, it was grey drizzly weather and about 5 degrees C. When the plane landed in Malaga it was clear blue sky and about 25 degrees C.
When I spoke to him later that day, Steve said they were sitting in a quintessential Andalucian plaza in the warmth of the afternoon sun sipping a beer and sampling the tapas. I was more than a bit envious as I looked out of the window just as hailstones had started thundering onto the patio!
When they arrived in Cabra, Steve and Denise were met by their host who took them for a tour around the historic town and shared insights into local life over dinner. Apparently, there are local customs about choosing a drink according to the time of day. For example, a beer can only be ordered at lunch time or in the afternoon with food, but it is OK to drink a glass of wine at any time of day...
The next day, the host took them to see the quarry and it was back to business.
When we visit a quarry, we like to get an understanding of the way that the operation is run and there are a few key criteria that we focus on.
1. Quality of production:
This includes every stage of the process from deciding where to quarry, right through to the final phase of quality control and packing ready for shipment.
2. Compliance with the law:
All quarries that we work with must be compliant with EU law and produce certified CE marks for each product. Within the EU, some countries have stricter local legislation for quarries than others and levels of enforcement vary. We are keen to see that the quarries we use go above and beyond the legal requirements.
3. Environmental responsibility:
Quarries can implement a variety of measures to clean up their operations and take steps to lighten their impact on the environment. The image here shows the water recycling plant which filters the water used in the stone processing.
As they drove out of Cabra and headed through the countryside to the quarry, the mainstay of the local economy became apparent. Olives! Olive groves cover the hills as far as the eye can see in all directions. Cabra became an important centre for the production of olive oil in the middle ages and, along with the rest of Andalucia, around 80% of all Spanish olive oil is still produced there today.
At the quarry, Steve and Denise were showed the four different stones that are extracted and processed on site: Crema Capri, Crema Palancar, Crema Zamora and Crema Real.
Capri and Palancar are similar but each has different shell/fossil structures. Both of these are typical limestones with a fine grain and a pale white/cream background.
Zamora and Real both look like marbles, polish to a high gloss and have similar cream backgrounds. These two are similar to the well known Crema Marfil stone and we would recommend either of these as a substitute where Crema Marfil is unsuitable or difficult to source. Real has more shells and fossils and Zamora has less marking but some white/pale clouds.
The owner explained that they are currently turning over part of the quarry to a wildlife lake and replanting the exhausted part of the quarry as an olive grove. The ethos at the quarry is environmentally focused which manifests in all aspects of the business. Some of the measures currently in place are:
Zero waste: all of the output from the quarry is used so there is no waste going to landfill. Offcuts and pieces too small to be used for cutting tiles are crushed and used as aggregate in road building etc.
Water recycling: used water is captured, filtered and the sludge goes off to make cement, the clean water is then re-used on site.
The measures they are taking are particularly impressive because the quarry is going to much greater lengths than current regulation stipulates. We are very pleased to find that this quarry owner is taking responsibility for their local environment and we're hoping that these kind of measures will become the norm rather than the exception in the near future.
The most important thing we can do as a company to encourage this change is to carefully select our suppliers based on these principles. For more information on this quarry visit or to discuss the environmental criteria of your project, please get in touch via our contact page.
Above: Crema Palancar Spanish Limestone floor tiles and fire surround
If you would like to know more about how we source natural stone for projects, please download our brochure:
Thanks for reading.
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