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This video appears on the excellent and informative
Published on Jun 1, 2016
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Considering the tumultuous history of Colorado Yule Marble – the many bankruptcies, lost fortunes and even, in the case of Channing Meek and Stacy E, Dunn, lost lives – to anyone with even scant knowledge of the staggering logistics of quarrying pristine blocks of marble at 9,300 feet, the sudden and miraculous recent turn of events would have seemed something of a miracle.
For not just the hostile nature of the Rocky Mountain terrain has been working against the various companies and regimes tasked with extracting the marble, but given the extreme distance from practically all of the major US markets, combined with the inability for even successful projects such as the Lincoln Memorial to recover the astronomical infrastructure costs, and it is perhaps no surprise that, although a major factor in the quarry’s endless struggle for survival, it wasn’t so much a lack of financial investment that plagued each enterprise, but a chronic lack of marble quarrying experience.
Now however I think it safe to say that all lovers of Colorado Yule Marble can at last breathe a sigh of relief. Not only has the Italian-owned Red Graniti poured vast amounts of capital into the project, best of all, these are the real experts, as evidenced by an impressive resume of Carrara marble quarrying experience garnered by the quarry’s expert management and staff.
And so for the first time ever in my opinion the quarry, first discovered way back in in the spring of 1873 by geologist Sylvester Richardson, but named after George Yule, the prospector who “rediscovered” the marble in 1874 is now finally, at last, once and for all, on the most sound of solid footings. With Red Graniti’s reach and influence within the marble industry stretching around the globe, and with our lovely Yule marble’s savvy re-branding towards what I am sure is a vastly more marketable ‘Colorado Stone Quarries’, flaunting such exotic names as Calcatta Lincoln, Calcatta Golden, and perhaps most evocative of all Staturio Colorado I cannot help but feel that at long, long last Yule marble’s fortune has turned the corner into sustained and prolonged profitability.
Finally, if you have not already, please watch the video, visit the excellent Colorado Stone Quarries website, and feel free to leave any thoughts questions and comments in the box.
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DANIELE TREVES: General Manager
“Every day when you pull one block, you are there like everything is new. Because you know what you have in front, in your face, but you never know what is at the back. It’s a challenge, every day. Every day it is a challenge. The challenge here is first to keep open the quarry all year long, but we ‘not lost a single day of work. We are able to work five days a week, all year long, of course! All the equipment we have here for quarrying the block, everything is from Italy. Not because we are Italy, but because I believe in the world we are the best in the business of the marble. We have a good crew, a good team. I am happy when they get home.”
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MARCO PEZZICA: Italian Marketing Manager
“I am from Italy, my home town is Carrara, which is considered the capitol in the world for the excavation of white marble, and my family has been in this business for generations.
What to say? It is amazing. Many years of my life all over the world to see quarries, but not even in Carrara do you see quarries with such a pattern and uniformage. Not at all.”
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STEFANO MAZZUCHELLI: Quarry Master
“I work in the quarry (industry) about 38 years. I love the (Yule) marble, I love it because usually in a regular quarry we recover about 20 to 25 percent, right here we are recovering about 60 to 80 percent, so it is all good marble.”
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DANIEL PENFIELD: Quarry Safety Manager
“The future of Colorado Stone Quarries looks very good. Since I’ve been here we’ve gone from having our strictly lower (100 year-old) workings, to opening portals 5, 6 and 7.
We’ve made major investments in equipment, safety, and every aspect of quarrying up here.”
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“A lot of repair up here, it’s pretty hard on the equipment, but they do a good job up here with the equipment and we do our best to keep it running for them. They scrapped all the older equipment and we came in here with a Volvo solution for them. They currently run a couple of L350Fs, it’s the larges loader Volvo makes.”
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Volvo’s Big Rig Video
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This video was posted on the Volvo Spirit Magazine website on Friday, November 11, 2016 – West Edition #23
“Cited as a rival to the Italian marbles of classic notoriety, Colorado’s Yule marble is celebrated as one of the purest marbles ever quarried, and has adorned many legendary monuments and buildings, including the Lincoln Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Although its almost snowy whiteness and uniformity once made it a sought after stone, quarrying the Yule marble was deemed uneconomical due to its remote location. By the mid-twentieth century, production in the state ceased and remained dormant for nearly 50 years.”
“However, excavation of the exquisite stone is experiencing a renaissance, due to Carrara-based R.E.D. Graniti. As the leading stone producer in Italy, R.E.D. Graniti assumed ownership of the Colorado Yule marble quarry in 2011. R.E.D Graniti operates the quarry, located in the aptly named city of Marble, Colo., under the name of Colorado Stone Quarries. Today, the company holds all mineral rights to a 26-hectacre section of land, known as Treasure Mountain, rich in high-quality marble.”
Diamond in the Rough
“During the assessment of the quarry, general manager Daniele Treves and quarry master, Stefano Mazzucchelli located a new vein of stone. To access this new source of stone, the Lincoln Gallery, named after the Lincoln Memorial, was unearthed. This new vein, Calacatta Lincoln, is now the top-selling stone worldwide for R.E.D. Graniti.”
Round the Clock
“To meet the growing demand of the Calacatta Lincoln marble, Colorado Stone Quarries employs a crew of 40 in its year-round operations. Because the stone is extracted with precision cuts, rather than blasting, the company relies on a fleet of 30 machines that includes Volvo L350F, L330E, L120E and L90E wheel loaders, an ECR58D compact short swing radius excavator, EC340D and EC480D crawler excavators and an A35D articulated hauler.”
“Inside the Lincoln Gallery, crews work on two levels. On the lower level, after the initial cuts are made, a Volvo EC340D or EC480D excavator slides deftly into place and uses its bucket teeth to loosen the stones, gently placing them onto the gallery floor for the L350F wheel loader to load out. Once the large blocks are removed, a Volvo L90E wheel loader with pallet forks repositions the saw for the next round of cuts. On the second level, the marble blocks are skillfully sliced from the rock face and extracted using the block forks on the L350F”.
The two Volvo L350F wheel loaders are the mine’s workhorses, clocking up to 10 hours a day.
“Both of the L350F loaders have the Volvo standard duty block handler kit and forks, which can carry up to 65,000 pounds,” said Troy Langston, of the Volvo CE dealership Power Equipment Company, based in near-by Grand Junction, Colo.”
“The L350F is known for its high capacity and outstanding rim pull. The standard Volvo block handler kit boosts capacity for lifting and withstands the rugged conditions of block handling. Because these loaders use the same linkage systems as standard machines, they can easily swap tools and be used as bucket handlers to load trucks; an advantage over competitor machinery equipped with shortened booms.”
Solid Selling Points
“Colorado Stone Quarries replaced its entire fleet of equipment when it purchased the mines. When the operations management reviewed bids, bottom line price was not the only factor taken into consideration. Total cost of ownership and dedicated dealer support influenced the decision to buy Volvo machines, especially due to the heavy duty cycling work of the loaders and the remote location.”
“Langston added that the Volvo 3.5 gal. (16 L) engine produces higher torque at a low rpm. “On fuel costs alone, Colorado Stone Quarries can save $70,000 over four years on each L350F,” he said. Fuel economy sold the loaders to management, but the Volvo cab won the praise of the machine operators. “I move rock for 10 hours each day, so I like the comfort of the Volvo wheel loader,” said operator David Porter. “My back doesn’t hurt, and it is easy to steer with the joystick controls. We are picking up blocks weighing more than 50,000 pounds and the power is still there.”
“Two Power Equipment Company service technicians carry out preventive and routine maintenance on the Volvo units and other equipment, including the stone saws. “We chose Volvo equipment for the quality of the machines and the uptime support we receive from Power Equipment,” Treves added.”
“Once the marble blocks are selected and carved from the face, they are washed and trimmed to size. Each block is inspected and approved, then loaded onto flatbed semi-trucks and hauled to a logistics stockyard in Delta, Colo. From there, the majority are sent by rail to Norfolk, Va., and transferred to containers ready for shipping to Italy. When the stone arrives in Carrara, it is sold to companies specializing in the supply of cut-to-size material for projects all over the world.”
“R.E.D. Graniti’s marble expert, Marco Pezzica, travels to Colorado several times a year to inspect and cherry-pick the blocks that are ultimately exported. “It’s very important that production matches the market request,” he said.”
“In addition to Calacatta Lincoln, Treasure Mountain also yields Statuario Colorado and Calacatta Golden. Pezzica describes a perfect example of Calacatta Lincoln as bold white with brown and gray veining and slight brownish fading of the surrounding veins. “This is what makes our material famous — and expensive — and the only place in the world we produce exactly the same type of stone as the original in Carrara is here in Colorado,” he said.”
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Colorado Stone Quarries estimates that it has 1.5 million cubic meters of marble remaining, enough to last them for another hundred years. At the time of writing 90 percent of extracted marble is shipped to Italy, while 10 percent stays in the USA. However, word has it that before the year is out Red Graniti plan to open a brand new fabrication plant in or near the town of Delta, Colorado, just down the road from the quarry. As yet I have to hear, see or read of the specifics, but when I do I shall relay the details pronto.
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