Most people when they hear the word aggregate, simply think of a pile of fairly small stones, though the term is actually far broader. Aggregates is an encompassing term which covers a broad category of particulate matter ranging from coarse to medium grain, which are generally used in construction projects, typically being sand, gravel, crushed stone and increasingly recycled concrete and geosynthetics. Aggregates are the most mined minerals on the planet and are used in a very wide range of applications, especially in the formation of composite material such as concrete and tarmac. Aggregates have a relatively high hydraulic conductivity value as compared with soil, which is why they are very regularly used in many different drainage applications, for example, concrete tanks for septic systems. They are also used as a base layer in road and rail track foundations, given their uniform and predictable qualities.
Choosing the Correct Aggregate
Around the world there is an exhaustive list of specifications for aggregates, for their various different sizes and composition, with each being considered suitable for specific construction purposes. This classification is nothing new, it has been happening as far back as the Ancient Romans who recognised the importance of having the right materials for the construction of their roads and aqueducts. Today, materials generally come from one of three sources, being either mined, waste materials from the iron and steel industry, known as slag, or are from recycled products, although the latter two are generally not found in sufficient quantities to replace mined product on a large scale.
Large quarries can be found fairly close to any major town or city around the world, given the relatively high transportation cost in relation to the products value, so sand in Glasgow probably came from no more than twenty to thirty miles away. These are typically very costly operations using heavy duty equipment like earth moving trucks, huge belt conveyors and specialist machinery for crushing the stone and grading it to required sizes and grades. Modern methods often utilise blasting to break huge pieces of stone into manageable sizes and is largely responsible for the development of large scale profitable quarrying.
Your Local Aggregate Provider
As times have changed, so has the demand for perfect quality and precisely graded products, along with a stream of legislation that impacts the way in which it is produced. Health and safety issues at the quarry are light years from where they used to be. Today, all staff have to receive intensive training before they are allowed anywhere near the quarry, regular inspections on equipment and working practice aim to bring zero accidents in what has traditionally been an extremely dangerous industry. The environment is being considered ever more important, which causes a bit of a headache for the quarry operator. We cannot do without the products that are produced from quarries, or all of our construction would have to cease.
Good operators today, do everything that they can to minimise their impact on the environment and work hand in hand with the local environmental protection agencies. They are continually looking to improve quarrying methods for a lower impact, while simultaneously seeking to provide more recycled aggregates, which are a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to mined products.