American becomes a quarrying force in Brazil
September 2, 2010
Educated as a landscape architect at Syracuse University in New York, Richard Sardelli first came to Brazil 22 years ago to work for acclaimed landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. This led him into several related industries, such as raising exotic plants in the southern part of Brazil. Ultimately, contacts back in the U.S. led him into stone sourcing, and today, he is the sole owner of Everest Export, which owns and operates several quarries in the state of Ceará, Brazil, including Nacarado quartzite.
“I was asked to do some block selection for North American companies,” Sardelli said, adding that he developed a number of contacts in Brazil over the years. He formed a partnership to establish Vulcano Export four years ago, and the company opened several quarry sites for exotics across the state of Ceará, including the Nacarado quarry as well a number of others. Recently, Sardelli and his partners branched in different directions, with Sardelli establishing his own firm, Everest Export, taking with him the quarry sites for Nacarado and Nougat as well as other developing quartzite deposits. “I’m going to continue development of the Nacarado extraction activities and the implementation of more environmentally friendly practices,” he said. “We are getting some very clean, gold material out of the Nacarado right now. It is getting cleaner as we go along.”
In addition to the established quarries, Sardelli plans for Everest to open new quarry sites for quartzite in the state of Ceará. “I want to focus on long-lasting materials that will have staying power in the marketplace,” he explained. “The goal right now is to have seven different quartzites that will remain popular for a long time. I am also moving into slab production, and cutting blocks of exotics for export to the U.S.”
Production for materials such as Nacarado is highly specialized, as the blocks have to be slabbed using multi-wire diamond saws, and the processor also has to be able to recognize the best methods for surface polishing. “I’ve been very fortunate to develop a relationship with a factory that does an excellent job with the material,” Sardelli said. “I think they’re the best in Brazil.”
Nacarado ProductionLocated deep in the hills outside of the town of Massapé, Ceará, the Nacarado quarry averages 40 to 50 cubic meters of production per month, although it yielded 80 cubic meters during the month of Stone World’s visit to the site.
“The quartzite deposit for Nacarado is 2,200 acres,” Sardelli said. “The reserve is estimated to be between 11 and 13 million cubic meters. This has the potential to be the largest quartzite quarries in South America, but it is also one of the most difficult, with fissures and masses of different materials.” A total of 38 core drilling procedures have taken place over the past 18 months, and they confirm solid quarrying for the foreseeable future.
The name “Nacarado” was derived from the material’s unique color and patterning, which traditionally has a golden background with waves of maroon, wine, white, black and green. “If you look up ‘nacreous clouds’ and see a photo, the sky looks like a slab of this stone,” Sardelli explained. “Nacarado is the Spanish translation of nacreous.”
Due to the nature of the material, diamond wire saws are essential to the extraction process. “We go through two diamond wires per month; three when we’re cleaning,” Sardelli said. “The newer wires are used for the large cuts on the quarry wall, and the older ones make the other cuts. The only drilling is for pilot holes for the diamond wire, and we don’t use explosives.”
Caterpillar loaders are also used during the extraction process, and at the time of Stone World’s visit to the site, one of these rigs was used to pull down a 250-ton block from the quarry face.
A range of Nacarado quartzite varieties are extracted from the quarry. “There is Nacarado Gold, and there are areas with varying degrees of the wine color,” Sardelli said. “The quartz veining is the distinguishing feature of Nacarado. There is also a whiter type of stone with black and green veining. We also have cross-cut and vein-cut slabs in all varieties. The stone is also semi-translucent; when it is cut to 1 cm, it is translucent.
In addition to selling polished slabs in a traditional format, the company is also offering four- and eight-slab bundles of bookmatched slabs. “You’re really selling them as a piece of art,” he said.
Additionally, Everest Export strives to use as much of the extracted Nacarado quartzite as possible. “We really want to use all of the pieces that come out of the quarry,” Sardelli said. “If you look at the color and texture of some of the boulders, they would be great for landscaping - not as part of a rock garden, but for a water feature. We could saw them to 1 x 1 or 1 x 2 meters and ship them in bulk to the U.S., and it would be like offering a ‘piece of Brazil’ for someone’s garden.”
Exploring for the FutureIn addition to the active quarries and the ongoing move into slab production, Everest Export is also exploring a range of other quarry sites for quartzite. Among them, the company has the mineral rights to a deposit for a unique, beige quartz called “Nocciola” - the Italian word for “hazelnut.”
Workable blocks of stone were taken from the quarry earlier this year, and finished slabs were on display at the Vitória Stone Fair this past February. “The stone has a lot of pure quartz crystals, and it looks almost like an onyx,” Sardelli said. “The geologist that originally had the site opened it up two years ago, and people loved it. My geologist is friends with him, and so he put us in touch.”
The quarry site is located in the general vicinity of the city of Sobral, and the roads leading to the site are still in development. The government of Sobral is currently in the process of improving and re-grading the roads, which will help transport to and from the quarry.
Ultimately, Sardelli sees Nocciola as a specialty material to complement Everest’s line of materials. “I see it as a quarry where you’re extracting around 30 cubic meters per month,” he said. “I still want to develop a quarry for white quartzite, and that might come first, but this is a beautiful, unique material.”
In addition to selling materials from its own quarries, Everest Export also entered into an agreement with Minete Mineracao Ltda. to market blocks of Red Dragon granite. Located at the city limits of Sobral, the quarry produces 100 cubic meters of stone per month, although that could be increased to 200 cubic meters. A typical block size is 300 x 190 x 150 cm. The material has drawn favor with major slab producers within Brazil, and its color has appeal for the Asian marketplace.