Sustainable extraction: not an option, but a must

Natural StoneKilkenny Limestone - IEGranitarn - FRCameleon - SALarvik Granite - NO

Each piece of natural stone tells its own centuries-long history. Nature shapes the material itself with unique patterns, textures and compositions. This immediately gives natural stone a durable and sustainable character. And that’s not all. Because during the extraction and production of natural stone, very little CO2 is released. With that and its longevity, natural stone is therefore seen as a material with a sustainable life cycle in line with the cradle-to-cradle principle. And this principle starts with the basics: extraction.

Based on profound respect for the natural stone that is extracted every day, the entire sector is strongly committed to sustainability. This guarantees an environmentally friendly process, from extraction and production to distribution and recycling. It also involves rehabilitation of the natural environment. This includes redevelopment plans for areas where quarrying is carried out - an absolute obligation. Not only for the government of the country where the quarry is located, but also for everyone engaged in the extraction process and work on the product and its quality.

Extraction involves moving raw material from one place to another. In doing so, you produce no waste.

Gilles Van Overberghe, CEO of Brachot

"Nevertheless, the sector is aware that damage can be caused to fauna and flora. That’s why everything is strictly regulated."

This starts with the application for the license to operate a quarry. For example, it is determined in advance to what depth you are allowed to extract, but you also have to provide financial guarantees. You state clearly in writing how many jobs the quarry will create, how safety will be guaranteed, what impact it will have on the environment, and you must also submit a watertight redevelopment plan. This plan describes exactly what will happen to the site when the quarry is exhausted or shut down. What exactly should and could be done differs from country to country and from place to place. Depending on the surrounding area. For example, an area with a lot of lakes is unlikely to benefit from an extra one.

From resorts to nature parks

"This redevelopment plan has to be approved, given that the goal is to restore the natural processes on the site," adds Gilles van Overberghe. “Numerous examples of this can be found at home and abroad."

In China, they created an underground hotel, for example, and large tourist parks, but they are deciding more often on the development of nature parks.

Gilles Van Overberghe, CEO of Brachot

"And in Lessen in Wallonia, old quarries now house natural lakes, which are used by diving clubs, among others. That restoration process can start even while the quarry is still active. In our own Silver Pearl quarry operated by Larvik Granite in Norway, we are already planting trees and shrubs on the mountain soil that we produce through the extraction process. The local residents are happy with this, since it blocks the view of the quarry itself. Redevelopment plans are also available for Kilkenny Limestone, Granitarn and Cameleon quarries.”

The Lake of Lessen, a beautiful example of successful repurposing. Diving clubs often make use of it.

A good example of the possibilities is the Hundred Acres Quarry in St. Cloud in the United States. In 1960, a former red granite quarry was transformed into a nature park where nature lovers can now fully enjoy the benefits of the old quarry activities. There is a 12-metre-deep lake; you can jump off cliffs, hike, cycle, fish, dive and even water-ski. The park attracts around 125,000 visitors every year. “There are no rigid guidelines,” says Gilles. “You take the climate, the location, and the characteristics of the terrain into account. And you consult with the authorities and the community. That is how the redevelopment plan takes shape."

But there are some things that are mandatory. Of course, you have to clean up the site and keep it safe, renew the infrastructure and restore the ecosystem. So the extraction of natural stone is certainly not something that is taken lightly.

Gilles Van Overberghe, CEO of Brachot

Quarry Larvik Granite - Norway - Silver Pearl: before planting

Quarry Larvik Granite - Norway - Silver Pearl: after planting

Positive impact

Irrespective of the quarrying activities, natural stone is a material with a positive and extremely long life cycle. The only thing consumed in the extraction, transport, production and finishing of this material is energy. CO2 emissions are virtually limited to transport by virtue of the entire sector actively investing in energy-neutral sites.

A German study from 2019 shows that natural stone consumes no less than 84% less energy than ceramics.

Phd. Kristof Callebaut, Geologist at Brachot

 "Natural stone has a lifespan of 50 to 75 years and can then be fully recycled in other sectors, such as road construction. The same study shows that ceramics have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years and are difficult to recycle. The same applies to quartz composite, with a lifespan of 25 to 30 years. In addition, the production of both those materials requires much more energy. At Brachot, we are actively committed to optimising our machinery, as well as making all our sites across the world more sustainable. We are installing solar panels to provide green energy, water treatment plants and water collection systems, etc. In this way, we are contributing to the sustainability of the material we work with every day.”

CO2 assessment of floor coverings

CO2 assessment of floor coverings

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