Cambrian Black granite quarry continues to thrive

January 25, 2006
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Polycor's Cambrian Black granite quarry, which was purchased by the company in 1998, is among its largest assets.

At the time of Stone World's visit, Polycor was working nine levels to get full production at its Cambrian Black site.

With approximately 500 employees globally and 25 quarries, Polycor Inc. has established a solid name for itself in the stone industry. Headquartered in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, the company - a large quarrier and fabricator of natural stone - has progressed steadily since it was started in 1987. And with 19 quarries that are currently in operation, there are several that have gained a level of renown. Among these quarries is the site that produces Cambrian Black granite, which is located deep in Quebec's countryside and was purchased by Polycor in 1998.

“This year, we will have 10 [quarries] in operation at one time,” said Yvan Grise, CGA, President and General Manager of Polycor's quarry division. “We will quarry two to three years at each quarry to extract material.” Grise explained that skilled quarry workers are transported around to different sites depending on the needs of each quarry.

The quarry site features a series of vertical joints, which are sometimes very tight and other times are between 20 and 50 feet apart.

At the Cambrian Black site, there are two areas for extraction - Armand and Excel. “Excel is the back-up quarry,” said Grise. “When we want more volume, we can operate here. It's much more efficient.”

The quarry is comprised of a series of vertical joints, which are sometimes very tight and other times are between 20 and 50 feet apart. To cut the blocks, six Pellegrini wire saws are on site. The diamond wire used in the saws comes from Diamant Boart and Tyrolit Vincent. “Cambrian Black can't fracture, so that's why we use diamond wire there,” said Grise, adding that this method is preferable over using explosives. “Blasting opens the cracks more and creates microfissures.”

Drills are also used in the quarrying process.

The Cambrian Black quarry is estimated to be between 45 and 50 years old, according to the quarry General Manager, who added that the Armand site is about 200 feet deep. “It's important to go deep and get the better range,” he said.

At the time of Stone World's visit, Polycor was working nine levels to get full production at its Cambrian Black site. “The secret is to keep all levels ready,” said Grise, explaining that when a problem occurs on one level, they can move to the next one. As a result, production is never impeded.

Six Pellegrini wire saws are used for cutting the blocks. The diamond wire is from Diamant Boart and Tyrolit Vincent.

However, some benches are larger than others, according to Grise. “Level four is twice the level of level three,” he said. “It has 40-foot-high walls.”

With 20 workers on the Cambrian Black site, the quarry yields approximately 500 cubic meters per month and 5,000 cubic meters per year. The workers complete 80 hours in seven days and then have seven days off in remote locations, according to the quarry General Manager. Shipments are scheduled to correspond to when the workers are on site.

At the Cambrian Black site, there are two operations - Armand and Excel. “Excel is the back-up quarry,” said Grise.

Part of Polycor's success can be attributed to the fact that they are always planning ahead. “Ten percent of your workforce should always be in development,” said Grise. When Stone World was on site, Grise explained that he had an important meeting the next day with top management of Polycor to decide how they will proceed to expand the Cambrian Black quarry. “Our goal is to get in there and switch it to reach levels one through four,” he said. “We will attack the quarry to open it. It takes months and months to turn it around.”

Improving productivity has always been a priority for Polycor, and investments in fixed assets are planned in order to provide subsidiaries with state-of-the-art production means. This policy has meant investments exceeding $8 million for each fiscal year ending in January 2004.

Cambrian Black granite

Absorption by weight: 0.101%

Density: 179 pounds/cubic foot

(2,874 kg/cu.m)

Compressive strength: 22,122 psi (153 Mpa)

Modulus of rupture: 1,868 psi (12.92 Mpa)

Annual production: 5,000 cubic meters and up

Reserves: Over 100 years

Quarry operating since: 1980

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