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Quarries
 

Sector's classified installations

Classification section: 2510 - 2515 - 2516 - 2517 - 25202521.
Standard orders: 25102515251625172521.



Classified Installations Legislation references

Environmental code (notably articles L515-1 to L.515-6)
Articles R515-2 to R515-7 of the environmental code relative to departmental quarry schemes
Environmental code regulatory part book V title 1 relative to classified installations
Amended ministerial order of 22 September 1994 relative to the operation of quarries and primary quarry material treatment installations



Context, issues and problems

The late 19th century was marked by a fundamental revolution in the “art of construction”, with the invention of cement and concrete. At the same time, the creation of railway networks, road infrastructures and associated constructions required considerable work as well as new and economical materials.

All these works use raw materials in the form of rocks, either natural (sand and gravel) or obtained in an artificial manner by crushing natural rocks: aggregates. A definition of the term aggregate is provided by standard XP-P 18.540: set of grains ranging from 0 to 125 mm notably destined to manufacture mortar, concrete, roadway sub-base, base, binder and surface courses, railway foundations and ballasts, embankments.

The construction or public works industry would be impossible without the massive use of aggregates, which represents the number one raw material in terms of volume, after air and water. France produces and uses 400 million tons of aggregates each year for the entire construction sector which, divided by the number of inhabitants, corresponds with a ratio of approximately 7 tons per person per year.

For example, the construction of a house requires 100 to 300 tons of aggregates, that of a hospital or high school 2,000 to 4,000 tons, 1 km of railway track 10,000 tons and 1 km of motorway 30,000 tons.

The nature and form of aggregates vary according to the source and production technique.

Aggregates can be obtained:

  • by directly exploiting unconsolidated detrital deposits such as sand and gravel in rivers (in some cases, they can subsequently be crushed),
  • or by crushing massive rocks: granites, diorites, basalts, limestone, quartzite etc.

Experts distinguish between three main aggregate categories according to their nature and origin:

  • Placer, alluvial, marine aggregates, and other deposits,
  • Aggregates from massive rocks, volcanic rocks, limestone, other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks,
  • Recycled and artificial aggregates, recycled concrete, blast furnace slag.

Aggregate reserves (alluvial or massive) are nearly unlimited; however, a lot of them are impossible to exploit for various reasons: inaccessible, integrated into urban areas, within listed or protected sites, overly costly exploitation, environmentally sensitive area etc.

Quarry operation requires control of the impact: risk of water pollution, noise, dust, impact on fauna and flora, visual impact during and after operations. Alluvial quarries pose the specific problem of the fragility of groundwater tables and greater sensitivity to evaporation.

Since the law no. 93-3 of 4 January 1993 relative to quarries, quarries have been included in the nomenclature of classified installations. The conditions in which they can be exploited are defined in the environmental code.

Departmental quarry schemes (article L 515-3 of the Environmental code) define the general installation conditions of quarries by taking into account:

  • the national economic interest,
  • material needs,
  • environmental protection,
  • the balanced management of space while encouraging the economical use of raw materials.

The departmental quarry scheme sets the objectives in terms of site rehabilitation and redevelopment.



Ongoing actions in the sector

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Useful sites

Reference documents on mineral raw materials: DGEMP (General Directorate for Energy and Raw Materials)
Vice-Directorate for Industrial Safety (DGE-DARQSI)
BRGM: Geological and Mining Research Office
UNICEM: National Union of Quarry and Material Industries
AIDA: legislation