Continuing a family tradition
May 1, 2006
Sitting on approximately 1,500 acres in the heart of central Italy, G.B. Basaltite srl is a relatively young company. While the property is rich in stoneworking history, G.B. Basaltite was only formed in 2000. Since opening, the company has devoted itself to marketing its products worldwide, and has recently doubled its production rate in a little more than a year.
For many generations, the Battaglini family has owned the land and basalt quarry. Until 1951, the quarry had been in operation under the direction of the current owner's grandfather. But for nearly 50 years, the quarry remained inactive, until its reopening in 2000 by Nicola Guidotti Battaglini.
Because agricultural plays a large role in the Battaglini family's livelihood, it was important to develop the quarry in a way that would respect the surrounding environment. As a result, a path was created to the site - keeping the mountain and trees intact.
â€œThis was all fields,â€ explained Gabriella Schmidt of G.B. Basaltite. She went on to say that the company's office is actually an old stone building that was discovered half under the earth. They believe it could have been a church. In addition to refurbishing the stone exterior, the structure's interior stonework - including an arch and stairway - has also been restored. The conference room features rustic wooden beams on the ceiling and a large table made from basalt.
Extracting the basaltG.B. Basaltite, which includes a total of 23 employees, has about 200 acres for quarrying, although only 27 acres are currently authorized, according to Schmidt. â€œIt's a great advantage that this is all private land,â€ she said.
Last year, the company switched to diamond wire saws during the extraction process, which now allows them to remove the basalt in banks. â€œThis makes removal easier, and we can get bigger slabs,â€ said Schmidt, adding that it takes approximately three hours to cut a block. Once the bench is cut with the diamond wire, a â€œpillowâ€ is placed in the opening and expanded, which pushes the stone away from the quarry face. This is a rare technique in the basalt sector, according to Schmidt. It is more commonly seen with marble excavation.
Between the period of December 2004 and January 2006, G.B. Basaltite produced 45,000 square meters of BasaltiteÂ® - its trademark name for the basalt. The material is a medium-gray-colored stone with some crystals of leucite immersed in a microcrystalline structure - derived from the hardening of lava in the eruption center of Bolsena-Bagnoregio. â€œIt is a very strong and compact lava stone that is frost and heat resistant,â€ explained Schmidt, who added that it also has a high natural slip resistance.
Not far from the quarry, blocks are shaped with two Fraccaroli Balzan wire saws and a Barsanti TBG 30 block cutter, which produces strips for tile production. Additionally, the company has a Fraccaroli Balzan water recycling system. A full production plant is located about 12 miles from G.B. Basaltite's quarry and office. While the majority of the work is cut to size, tiles ranging in size from 12 x 12 to 60 x 60 inches are also produced.