Quarrying Operations Remain Key for Finnish Company
April 28, 2009
Established in 1958, the Ylamaa Group is a family company with over 50 years in the stone industry. It began quarrying operations in the 1960s, and the group’s quarrying division, LT Granit Oy, is discovering new sites for extraction on a continual basis.
In addition to LT Granit Oy, the Ylamaa Group’s companies include Ylämaan Graniitti Oy (countertop factory) and Granite Development Oy (sales and marketing).
When the company began quarrying nearly 50 years ago, it developed sites in southeast Finland, one of the best granite production areas in the world. Some of Ylamaa Group’s well-known products are the coarse-grained and high-quality granites characteristic to the area -- Baltic Brown, Karelia Red and Baltic Green. The company is constantly seeking new quarrying areas, and its newest quarry -- Baltic Brown V -- was opened in 2007 to replace the traditional Baltic Brown Y.
Within southeast Finland, Ylamaa Group has quarries in the Ylämaa area villages of Mättö, Rantamäki and Kasari, where different varieties of material are extracted. Other quarries are located in Valkeala, where New Balmoral is quarried, and Virolahti - which are also in southeast Finland.
The location of the quarries is beneficial from a practical standpoint, since the distance from one quarry to another is approximately 60 miles (100 km). This allows the company to move machinery and personnel from quarry to quarry as needed.
Additionally, Ylamaa Group points out that its proximity to the Russian border and Finland’s capital of Helsinki is an advantage, as well as the distance to the port facilities in the city of Kotka. Depending on the quarry site, blocks only have to be transported between 24 and 72 miles (40 to 120 km) from the quarries to the port, and high-quality road connections ensure reliable supply to our customers year round. The Kotka port itself is the foremost export port in Finland, guaranteeing regular transport connections to points all over the world.
Quarrying processYlamaa Group reports that it is constantly improving its production processes to be more efficient. It employs the ”Finnish method,” of quarrying, which is a combination of drilling and blasting. First, the company drills horizontal and vertical holes in the bedrock with dimensional stone drill rigs and horizontal drilling rigs. After that, holes are filled with plastic pipe explosives, and the explosion is executed by using a cordtex detonating fuse. The primary block varies from 300 to 3,000 cubic meters, which is then drilled and explored for smaller pieces. When pieces are in suitable sizes and well shaped, the next step is measuring blocks. Quality control is executed on every step, but the most specific quality classification is done during the final measurement.
Among the advances over the years, hoisters have been replaced by wheel loaders. Ylamaa Group reports that quarrying costs have increased slower than ”common costs,” which has allowed the company to boost and improve its production process.
Equipment at work in the quarries includes a wheel loader, line drilling equipment and slot drill rigs. The drilling rigs are from Tamrock/Sandvik, a Finnish company which is considered to be a worldwide leader in quarrying technology, and Ylamaa Group praised the quality and reliability of the machinery. Meanwhile, the material is transported around the quarry site using loaders from Caterpillar.
Among the developments in quarrying technology over the past 20 years, Ylamaa Group reports that slot drilling has advanced, and dimensional stone drill rigs and horizontal drilling rigs are stronger than before. Additionally, the drilling rigs are now radio controlled, and they can be operated automatically as needed.
In order to work at the highest level of efficiency, Ylamaa Group invested in a new maintenance hall for its equipment, which was completed in 2008. It also has two mobile maintenance units to ensure smooth production.
Environmental careWhen starting new quarry sites, Ylamaa Group pays close attention to environmental issues. It seeks locations that will not cause any problems in the surrouding area, minimizes environmental effects and is a suitable distance from residential areas. During the quarrying process, the waste material is stored for future use in a different application in the future.
Before leaving a quarry site, Ylamaa Group ”reclaims” the land so it provides a proper environment in the future. Soil is delivered to the remaining stone piles to help forestation grow, and stones are used to build walls around the quarry itself. In many cases, the quarry sites are filled with rainwater and are used for fishing, swimming or diving.