Exploring the quarries of Ceará

July 1, 2008
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A few hours outside the city of Fortaleza, Brazil - which is renowned for its pristine beaches - stone aficionados can find a seemingly endless range of quarry sites for exotic materials as well as traditional stones.

Most of the quarries are in the vicinity of the city of Sobral, which quarry operators and prospectors use as a home base when visiting these sites. Often, just getting to the quarries is a task itself, as virtually all of them are well off the beaten path and require an experienced driver and a well-suited vehicle. While some of these rough mountain roads are short, most are relatively long - up to 12 or 15 miles.

From a marketing standpoint, the exotics tend to be marketed as quartzite and granite, although the geology can vary from quarry to quarry. Some sites also yield conglomerate stone.

The process for opening a quarry is lengthy, and it requires several stages of approval from the government in terms of financial feasibility as well as environmental impact. In general, the extraction methods from quarry to quarry are similar, and they utilize modern equipment such as diamond wire saws. In the exotic quarries, the methods typically require a combination of drilling and diamond wire saws. Additionally, some of the quarries for traditional materials employ blasting as part of the extraction process.

The following is a look at just some of the stone quarries that can be found within Ceará.

Abstract

Owner: Vulacano Export Mineracao Exportcao e Importcao Ltda.

Quarry Yield: 200 cubic meters per month

Description: The pattern of this material includes shades of brown and rust, with subtle white veining and black and white accents. It is sold by international stone suppliers such as Granos S/A and others. During the extraction process, large walls are freed using drilling and blasting, and when a wall tips, it is further worked into transportable blocks using drills. Diamond wire saws are also part of the extraction process.

Bordeaux Santana do Acarú

Owner: Granos S/A

Quarry Yield: Varies, depending on customer demand

Description: The quarry for Bordeaux Santana do Acaraú yields a unique variety of the material - a conglomerate that also incorporates smaller pebbles and “river stones,” which can vary in size. The general tone of the material is similar to traditional Bordeaux, with a light maroon. The quarry is not in continuous production, and material is extracted as needed. Much of the quarry’s production is for the Brazilian market, although the U.S. has imported some blocks as well.

Chocolate Brown

Owner: Vulacano Export Mineracao Exportcao e Importcao Ltda.

Quarry Yield: 150 cubic meters per month

Description: This material, which features a deep brown color with distinctive black veining and patterning, is marketed and sold throughout the world by leading international suppliers such as Antolini Luigi & C., which has factories in Italy and Brazil. The material is quarried using a combination of drills and diamond wire saws, and it is located a short ride from the city of Sobral.

Elegant Brown

Owner: Milgran

Quarry Yield: 100 cubic meters per month

Description: The quarry site for Elegant Brown (sometimes sold simply as “Elegant”) includes several sections, and blocks are taken from broad quarry faces. The stone is distinguished by waves of green and violet, and Pellegrini diamond wire saws from Italy are a key component of the process, as they are used for both extraction and block trimming. In addition to Elegant Brown, the quarry yields a darker material with broader patterning.

Green Ventura

Owner: Granos S/A

Quarry Yield: 250 cubic meters per month

Description: The quarry for Green Ventura granite sits high in the mountains of inland Ceará, several thousand feet above sea level. The stone is considered to be more in line with the traditional granites of Brazil, with a consistent green hue with black accents. Customers often buy full containers of this material alone, and it is being used for both residential and commercial projects. The site has been open since 2000, and Granos is currently working several faces of the quarry.

Juparana Gold

Owner: Granos S/A

Quarry Yield: 200 cubic meters per month

Description: This material, which has shades of light and dark gold with black accents, is a top seller for Granos S/A. The quarry itself operates in the manner of a boulder quarry. Using a small amount of explosives, a massive block is freed and then sawn with diamond wire into smaller pieces, which are then further worked. Blocks are also trimmed using drills as needed. In addition to Juparana Gold, the site also contains sections of Juparana Light granite.

Magma

Owner: Granos S/A

Quarry Yield: 150 cubic meters per month

Description: The quarry for Magma lies in the countryside of Ceará, only a short distance from the city of Sobral. Here, workers extract a metamorphic material with a rich, rust-colored tone. Diamond wire saws are the primary equipment used during extraction, along with large-scale maneuvering equipment.

Red Dragon

Owner: Granitec

Quarry Yield: 140 cubic meters per month

Description: Red Dragon is generally sold as a granite, and it features a deep red/rust tone with waves of black and white crystal highlights. The quarry face is cut using diamond wire saws from Fabrimar. Additionally, blocks are split using handheld hydraulic drills.

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