VTCA-VDOT Quarry Open House & Tour
The second VTCA-VDOT Quarry Open House & Tour was conducted on September 20 at Vulcan Materials’ Graham, VA Quarry in Lorton, VA.
In attendance were representatives from VDOT, representing the Culpeper, Fredericksburg, and Northern Virginia VDOT Districts. VDOT had representation from several VDOT departments from within the districts including Materials, Construction, L&D, Maintenance, Environmental, Permitting and Land Use, Project Development, Traffic Engineering, and Project Controls.
The Summit aimed to illustrate quarry processing, the importance of product balance in aggregate processing, and how VDOT officials can assist in keeping aggregate operations efficient and environmentally sustainable.
Aggregates are the most utilized product on road construction and maintenance projects! Quarries must strive to keep a balance between sales and production.
Product balance means that all materials produced are utilized in the market. Aggregate production is unlike most manufacturing. Aggregate producers have limited control over the products they produce and have underutilized excess materials. These excess materials pose logistical challenges as they can accumulate quickly and take massive amounts of real estate to store on mine sites.
There are also sustainability concerns. Natural resources, the minerals themselves, and the energy required to process “some” of the higher-demand products are consumed to process all the materials, including those that have a lower market demand. Striving to utilize all materials generated through aggregate production ensures natural resources are not lost on useless byproducts.
VDOT’s understanding of “product balance” and consideration of options that can lead to better utilization of excess aggregate materials will have positive impacts on resources and efficiencies.
Aggregate producers emphasized that excess materials generated are usually stored onsite taking up space and, in some cases, covering areas designated as future reserves. VDOT learned that for aggregate operations to operate efficiently they need to be in “product balance.” Product balance means that there are sufficient markets for high-demand products and outlets for products generated during the production of the more desired materials.
Members of VTCA’s Technical Committee gave presentations on product balance and Vulcan’s Operations folks played an in-depth drone video of production processes. Following the presentations, VDOT was treated to an in-depth (that is quarry humor) tour of the Graham Quarry. Vulcan has recently completed a major upgrade to the Graham Quarry, including millions of dollars in new plant facilities, and proudly showcased the improvements.