Maintaining the tradition of Carrara White marble

September 10, 2004
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It is impossible to drive through the Apuan Alps of Carrara, Italy, and not breathe in the history of the region. Since the days of Michelangelo and beyond, the area has been a source for pure white marble that is renowned around the world. Many of the companies that have been quarrying Carrara White marble have been in the trade for generations, and they operate their business on an international level. A prime example of this can be found in Mazzucchelli Marmi, which has diverse quarrying and fabricating operations both in Italy and the U.S. And true to its Carrara roots, the company operates a quarry for White Carrara C and CD marble, which has been passed among the Mazzucchelli generations.

The quarry has been in operation since pre-war times. In an area where existing and former quarries reach into the hundreds, Mazzucchelli's quarry is simply referred to as “Cava No. 55.” Company President Vicenzo Mazzucchelli explained that the quarry was owned by his father, and the equipment and extraction methods used at the site have evolved as technology changed.

Machinery in the quarry includes drills, diamond wire saws and chainsaws as well as a range of heavy equipment for maneuvering material around the site. These include front loaders, bulldozers and backhoes.

During the production process, large vertical cuts are made with a Lochtmans diamond wire saw. The diamond wire is threaded through drill holes that are carefully made so that the cuts will follow exact specifications. The lower horizontal cut is made with a QS 2000 chainsaw from Quarry Service of Carrara. The saw has a cutting arm measuring 3.7 meters, which can execute a 3.5-meter useable cut. The relatively small size of the saw allows it to work efficiently in narrow spaces.

As a result of these drilling and cutting operations, large sections of stone measuring 6.5 meters high x 12 meters wide x 3.5 meters deep are freed from the quarry face, and they are further cut into useable blocks with the diamond wire saws.

Bulldozers are used to push waste from the quarry floor, and the waste is carted out and eventually crushed into powder for calcium carbonate.

The quarry yield is mostly sold as blocks, although Mazzucchelli sells 20 to 30% of the production as slabs or cut-to-size work.

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