As the UK’s largest county and the home to two National Parks, Yorkshire is visually and geologically one of the most diverse regions in the whole country, with a rich industrial history of mining and quarrying from Roman times through to the Industrial Revolution. In fact, Jackdaw Quarry, which supplied stone down the River Ouse to the encampment at York during the Roman era, is still operating today some 2,000 years later!
Due to its vast and varied land expanse, a diverse range of mineral products are sourced from across Yorkshire. The carboniferous limestones in the Yorkshire Dales and immediate surrounding areas are important sources of aggregates for road building and concrete. Further west, sandstones of the middle and upper carboniferous are worked for aggregates, dimension stone, and the famous York flagstones which paved many of our cities from medieval times. Also in the west, ordovician greywackes are an important source of high PSV aggregates for road surfacing. Softer magnesian limestones of Permian age are worked extensively in the central areas for aggregates, and the east of the region is dominated by Jurassic limestones and calcareous gritstones worked for aggregates for road building, concrete and general construction.
The key sites are to be found in the Ribblesdale Valley where the quarries of Dry Rigg, Arcow and Horton in Ribblesdale operate with the unusual formation of high PSV gritstone overlying the limestone beneath. Ingleton quarry lies slightly to the west, whilst heading east is the large rail linked quarry of Swinden. Sitting above the town of Pateley Bridge is the giant Coldstones quarry, probably the highest in the region, yet invisible to the surrounding area thanks to sympathetic shielding and the fact that everything else is below it!
A number of projects are either currently underway or in the pipeline to go ahead in the future. One of the largest ongoing infrastructure projects is the improvement of the A1 from dual carriageway to three lane motorway status.
For the future, a new potash mine is due to commence preparatory works very shortly at its site south of Whitby. Perhaps more controversially, the recent approval of fracking trials near Kirby Misperton may provide opportunities for the silica sand used in the fracture process as well as more general minerals required for infrastructure works. The HS2 fast rail link, which is planned to terminate in Leeds and run through the south of our region, will also generate a lot of demand for aggregates and other resources.
What does the IQ Yorkshire branch do to support members in the area?
Our branch has been active for many years with regular meetings held at the Bridge Inn, Wetherby and also at High Melton College near Doncaster. The Branch’s main event is the annual Health & Safety Conference at Scotch Corner. Held in September and run in conjunction with QNJAC, the event is a forum for current topics, covered by a wide range of speakers as well as a chance to meet HSE staff on an informal basis. From small beginnings, the event is now a permanent feature on the calendar and is usually fully subscribed, with attendees receiving full CPD accreditation and attendance certificates.
Our largest turnout for many years met recently in Doncaster for a presentation by Matt Parson of Sirius Minerals on their planned new mine in North Yorkshire. Matt described the financial drivers for the development of the mine, which will work by far the largest known deposit of polyhalite in the world. Preparation works, including infrastructure improvements and further geotechnical investigations are due to begin immediately.
How can I get involved?
Details of Branch activities and contacts can be found at www.quarrying.org. Either contact a committee member directly, or come along to a meeting - you will be made very welcome! Alternatively check out our LinkedIn page - search for ‘Institute of Quarrying Yorkshire branch’ and join up.
Do you have any personal highlights of the region?
Visitors to the area should definitely take the time to ascend the steep Greenhow Hill out of Pateley Bridge and visit the ‘Coldstones Cut’. This is a stone sculpture viewing point on the edge of Coldstones quarry which allows stupendous views of the area as well as into the quarry itself.
For more information on the design philosophy and construction of the ‘Cut’, see www.thecoldstonescut.org