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  • Writer's pictureChiltern Contracts

Designer and Client visit to the Carrara Marble Quarry

As part of a recent project, Chiltern Contracts employees arranged a visit for contractor, designer and client to Italy to visit the Carrara marble quarry. The quarry is responsible for extracting all Carrara marble used globally and represents the pinnacle material in the natural stone world.

The Carrara mine is located in the Apuan Alps in northern Italy, and has been active for over 2,000 years. The 1500m tall mountains have been providing the opulent natural stone to Europeans for decades, established by the Romans in the 1st Century BC and used by icons such as Michelangelo and Da Vinci. The material has been is often favoured by sculptors and high-end fabricators due to the purity of vein. In the contemporary world the marble is one the most popular and sought after materials, and also one the most commonly replicated engineered stone through its use in porcelain and quartz products.

Chiltern Contracts visited the site to inspect bespoke slabs required for a project in the UK. The slabs had to be surveyed to ensure the material met the clients specification, with particular attention paid to the veins and the required slab thickness.

The mine spans over 67km2, and includes an on-site slab mill. The mine currently exports around 25,000 tons of marble every month.

The mining process:

1. Identifying a marble outcrop and testing the stone for the required qualities

2. Exposing the stone through clearing overburden, or dirt, and establishing the necessary infrastructure. Entire sections have to be exposed to ensure that the stone is cut along a vein, not through it.

3. Dynamite is used to loosen the mine walls, and then diamond drills cut the stone into large blocks. The stone is then transported to the mills. This process usually takes about 24 hours.

4. At the mills, diamond wet saws are used to cut the blocks into slabs (usually 2m x 2.5m) 20mm or 30mm thick. The slabs are then transported to distributers and manufacturers for further fabrication.

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