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What issues are raised with quarry design and restoration?

Introduction
The design of a quarry, the plan for its restoration and its intended future use, are as varied as the number of locations where quarrying takes place. However, some basic principles should apply to all quarries to ensure an efficient and well-run site during extraction. All quarries are temporary in terms of land-use (although some hard rock quarries can be at the same location for 50 or more years) and therefore it is important to have a plan in place for what happens when quarrying finishes.

Quarry design
     
Preparations for the design for the quarry should start long before a planning application has been submitted. Indeed a detailed quarry design forms an essential part of the planning application itself.
 
Preparations for the design for the quarry should start long before a planning application has been submitted. Indeed a detailed quarry design forms an essential part of the planning application itself. First the potential operator has to establish that a particular location probably contains sufficient mineral resource to make further work worthwhile, then secure the site, and the underlying mineral, either by purchase or lease.

Preliminary investigations
Once the potential operator has secured mineral rights, a series of preliminary investigations are carried out. Although particular circumstances may require some variation, in general these investigations will include the following:

Preliminary investigation of a potential aggregate resource by drilling.

Preliminary investigation of a potential aggregate resource by drilling.

  Quarry restoration

Quarry restoration.

Topographical survey - a detailed survey of the surface contours.

Geological survey - to establish the extent and quality of the mineral, this may include geophysical methods, boreholes and trial pits.

Hydrogeological survey
- to establish the flow of surface water and groundwater.

Ecological survey - a survey of plants, animals and birds on the site, in particular to identify any that may need special protection.

Archaeological survey - to see if there is anything of historical significance.

Noise/dust measurements - to establish what the background levels are before any work begins. If the quarry will involve blasting, there may also be a study to measure background vibration levels.

Meteorological surveys - to establish the prevailing wind exposure, for example, as this may affect noise and dust dispersal.

Traffic study - a study of the local road network, and/or to see whether a rail connection is possible.

Surroundings study - to establish whether the site is affected by pipelines, power cables, rights of way, etc and to identify the nearby land uses and proximity to neighbours.

The information gained from these investigations is important in guiding the development of the quarry design. The design is basically a plan of how the mineral will be extracted - safely, cost effectively and with the minimum of disruption to the environment and surroundings. It will contain a number of different elements:

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