While the quarry is located in the Espírito Santo State of Brazil -- where the Vitória Stone fair is held -- driving there would have been an all-day affair. So bright and early one morning, we boarded a helicopter at the Vitória Airport, and made our way to the quarry. Viewing the site from the air was a completely different experience, and it helped me appreciate just how large the quarry actually was. During our visit to the site, a total of six different levels of the quarry were being extracted, and a seventh level is expected to be opened within the next two years.
There is a total of 160 workers responsible for extracting blocks and processing them into raw slabs, along with an additional support team of 20 people to provide transportation, meals and administration. I was also impressed with the level of organization within the quarry, as blocks and slabs are meticulously color coded using a sophisticated system that identifies the location of the quarry where the blocks were quarried, along with the date that it was cut and processed. Perhaps most noteworthy for me, I felt that the level of environmental stewardship displayed by Marbrasa was exemplary.
The company redevelops exhausted areas of the San Gabriel quarry site by planting three to four times as many trees as required by national law. It has an extensive nursery for dozens of species, including Ipé, Sapucaia, Jatobá and Pau-Brasil -- the tree that gave its name to the country 500 years ago. Well more than 100,000 trees have been planted by Marbrasa in its effort to reclaim the natural beauty of the land. As stone providers, stories like those offered by the San Gabriel Black quarry might offer a special value when it comes time to marketing and selling materials. As consumers place "green" higher and higher on their list of priorities, it is time to start thinking about the "story behind the stone," and we will do our best to continue doing that in the print and online editions of Stone World.