Glensanda Quarry

An immense super-quarry occupying a remote location on the south coast of the Morvern peninsula, 10½ miles (17 km) north of Oban, Glensanda is said to be the biggest coastal quarry in Europe. The facility includes a processing plant, a small aircraft landing strip, a coastal deep-water berth on Loch Linnhe, which can serve ships up to 120,000 tonnes, and a small harbour that receives a private ferry which crosses the loch from Port Appin bringing workers to the quarry.

Developed on land bought from the Kingairloch Estate in 1982 by John Yeoman, owner of Somerset-based Foster Yeoman, the quarry began operations in 1986 and extends to 125 ha (309 acres). Since 2006, Foster Yeoman has been part of the Swiss group Holcim. The quarry employs around 200 people and 7 million tonnes of aggregate is extracted every year. An entire granite mountain, Meall na h-Easaiche, is being quarried, crushed, washed and loaded directly onto ocean-going bulk carriers. The quarry is operated via the 'glory hole' method, whereby granite from the primary crusher drops down a 300m by 4m (984 foot by 13 foot) diameter vertical shaft (the 'glory hole') and is then transferred to the processing plant through a mile-long (1.8 km) tunnel on an underground conveyor belt. Glensanda is not accessible by road and the company runs its own fleet of self-discharging ships to transport the granite aggregate to markets in the South of England, Europe and North America, where it has been used for projects from road construction to the Channel Tunnel. The volume of material exported makes Glensanda one of the twenty largest ports in the UK.

A controversial proposal to extend the quarry by 81 ha (200 acres) was given approval by planning authorities in 2006. This doubles the amount of rock which can be extracted to 814 million tonnes, equating to reserves of more than sixty years at an increased extraction rate of 15 million tonnes per annum.

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