Stone Column

Stick to baseball, Matt

Every spring, Major League Baseball heads to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training. And while much of the talk there is obviously about baseball, the ritual also gives rise to “human interest” stories about the ballplayers - particularly the non-superstars, who get enough press during the regular season.

This year, one of the stories was of particular interest to the natural stone industry. It appears that a pitcher named Matt White - in camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers - purchased a parcel of land in Massachusetts a few years ago, and it contains a deposit of mica schist that has been estimated to be worth an unbelievable amount of money. The story was carried by the Associated Press and other major media outlets, and this morning as I drove to work, I almost careened off the highway when I heard ESPN Radio report that the quarry is estimated to contain $2.4 billion worth of stone. (Some of Matt White’s Dodger teammates have already nicknamed him “The Billionaire,” by the way.)

Now, I’m a huge baseball fan (as evidenced by the New York Mets jersey hanging in my office), and I love the idea that ESPN is talking about a stone quarry, but I’m not sure that Matt White should hand in his spikes and glove just yet.

According to the Associated Press story, a geologist estimated there were 24 million tons of the stone on the land. It went on to report that since the stone is being sold for upwards of $100 per ton, there is well over $2 billion worth of material that can be used for sidewalks, patios and similar applications.

I shared these figures with a geologist friend of mine, and his reply was, “That is like tapping into an oil reserve with a million gallons and multiplying that by the per-gallon price of gasoline.” In other words, it’s going to take a lot to turn this raw product into hard cash.

The fact of the matter is that quarrying in the U.S. is a very tricky business. Between Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulations, acquiring the necessary permits and meeting environmental standards, simply opening a quarry site is an expensive and difficult proposition. And it may be near impossible if the potential quarry site is near a residential neighborhood. (This is also true in many other countries, by the way, but since Matt’s quarry is in Massachusetts, I will limit my discussion here to the U.S.)

In my time here at Stone World, I have met many owners of American stone quarries, and while most of them truly enjoy what they do for a living, none of them will tell you that running a quarry is “easy money.” It is a labor of love, and even large investments of money, time and dedication will not necessarily result in success; there are just too many variables when it comes to stone quarrying.

Just last week, I met with a long-time stone industry veteran who has conducted research on over 20 different quarry sites in the Rocky Mountains of the U.S., and despite many intriguing prospects, none of them were ultimately economically viable for commercial quarrying. That’s none; as in zero.

I should note here that Matt White has gone on record as saying that he has no intention of turning in his baseball uniform and becoming a stone quarrier. “There are a lot of questions,” he told the Associated Press when asked about operating a stone quarry. “It takes time, it takes money, it takes machines. There are professionals who handle that stuff.”

Rather, the ballplayer and his father may sell the property, and one University of Massachusetts professor estimated that the site may be worth several million dollars. Now, that’s a steep drop from $2.4 billion, but if I’m Matt White, and I’m offered several million for an unproven quarry site for mica schist, I take the money and run - quickly.

Again, this is not a knock of Matt White’s “good fortune.” (As I said, I am a huge baseball fan.) Rather, it is a testament to the existing quarriers in the U.S. that have found success in this industry. For all the reasons outlined above and more, their achievements are realized through hard work, commitment and perseverance - even if the vast majority of quarry owners out there can’t throw a decent curveball.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

Recent Articles by Michael Reis

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

StonExpo 2015 Product Showcase

Check out the latest products from the StonExpo trade show.

Stone World Magazine

Stone World February 2015

2015 February

This month's issue features articles about various quarries such as TexaStone Quarries in Garden City, Texas and Vermont Quarries Corp.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

CSTD Winter 2015 cover

2015 Winter

This issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design features the Tile of Spain design awards. Also highlighted in this edition is the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition — sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Commission

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Are you aware of the new stone standard – ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Stone Industry Education

Stone Industry Education

From marketing and much more!  We provide natural stone professionals with stone knowledge and education they can count on, as well as great networking opportunities. Click here to go to Stone Industry Education.


facebook logo Twitter  YouTubeGoogle+

Stone Guide 2014

2014 Stone World Stone Guide

The directory for Stone, Equipment and Supplies - the single information resource readers turn to.