This month (August) marks the 30th anniversary of the first shipment made from super quarry Glensanda, located in the centre of a peak in Morvern Peninsula, near Oban on the West Coast of Scotland.
Glensanda is the flagship site of construction materials producer and supplier Aggregate Industries, and the largest granite quarry in Europe, exporting to markets all across Northern Europe. It has an annual production capacity in excess of 9 million tonnes and a massive 760 million tonnes reserve of granite.
Glensanda was first discovered by John Yeoman on a boating holiday. The site was then named as a potential location in a report commissioned by the government in the 1970s to identify coastal super quarries. Extraction began in 1986 and it undertook its first shipment on 5th August 1986 to Houston, Texas, delivering the granite to the US Gulf market just 10 days after setting sail.
Since then, over 5,500 shipments have been made to projects throughout Europe including: the Channel Tunnel, the TGV rail line from Bordeaux to Bayonne and the Pont de Normandie in France, Deurganckdok in Antwerp, Schipol airport in Amsterdam, Moorburg Powerstation in Hamburg, the A1 motorway Gdansk to Torun, Riga airport, the Olympic park for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the new London Gateway container port.
Located on the banks of Loch Linnhe, Glensanda is a unique site, as it is only accessible by sea due to the surrounding rugged mountainous terrain. It is renowned for being one of the most efficient mineral extraction operations in the world, whereby granite is crushed at the top of the mountain, then fed into a ‘glory hole’ taking the rock 300 metres down and out of sight into the core of the mountain, then through a 1.8km horizontal tunnel to the foreshore where the rock will be washed, screened and stored ready for ship loading.
Glensanda is one of the UK’s top ten tonnage ports, and has a fleet of its own purpose built ships which includes the Yeoman Bontrup and Yeoman Bridge – the largest gravity fed self-discharging bulk carriers in the world. It has the capability to transport products directly from its dedicated harbour all the way to customers in the deep water ports around the UK and Northern Europe where granite is in short supply. These ships are effectively the conveyor belts of the sea, efficiently connecting quarry to market and capable of transporting almost 100,000 tonnes of high quality granite on each shipment.
Not only is Glensanda one of Europe’s largest resources of consistently high quality, durable granite, it is also one of the largest single quarry operations in the world, employing 120 direct colleagues and supporting a further 300 third party jobs.
Philippe Frenay, managing director, UK & Overseas, at Aggregate Industries, said: “From the first shipment in 1986, Glensanda has come a long way over the last 30 years to become one of the most valuable exporting businesses in Scotland, accounting for close to 100 per cent of all aggregate exported from Britain. It is a huge operation, producing unique products and the flexibility for us to tailor our services, which is what has delighted our customers over the years and kept them coming back,
“We have also continued to invest in the site over the years to get it to where it is today, including a £30 million investment in a new crusher and delivery system in 2014. Despite this investment, it’s the 200 plus men and women on site, the vessel crews and our distribution network personnel that keep the operation running, and I’d like to thank them for their hard work and say: here’s to the next 30 years.”
To find out more about Glensanda, visit www.aggregate.com, where you can download a brochure on the quarry.