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Editorial comment

Quarry management is an art. As we all know quarrying is the essential first step in the cement production process, and therefore deserves special attention. The extraction of raw material demands careful planning and cooperation with the local authorities, together with expert knowledge of the area. But what happens when the reserves of limestone, shale or clay run dry? In the past this question may have been brushed under the carpet, but in today’s industry, quarry rehabilitation is at the forefront of a new more sustainable cement outlook.

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Two companies that are demonstrating this thinking are Hanson UK and Cemex in Mexico. Hanson UK has recently handed over 96 hectares of restored land at its Needingworth quarry in Cambridgeshire to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Hanson UK and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are engaged in a 30-year partnership project to create a wildlife nature reserve from the working sand and gravel quarry.

The Hanson-RSPB project is the largest planned nature conservation restoration scheme in Europe. Hanson will continue to hand over areas of land as sand and gravel extraction is completed, eventually creating a 700 hectare reserve and recreating some of the lost wetland habitat that once dominated the Fenland landscape.

Similar conservation and restoration projects are underway around the world. For example, Cemex are undertaking rewarding work in association with BirdLife International in their Cerrito Blanco Quarry in the remote biodiverse Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico.

In 2012 experts worked with Cemex to undertake field surveys in the quarry for birds, mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians, assessing the potential impact of human activities in the area. This Biodiversity Action Plan also led to a special project to increase scientific knowledge of the Golden Eagle. The team work tirelessly to locate the nests to tag juvenile birds with radio-transmitters that would collect data to help understand the birds’ range and dispersal.

Such projects go a long way to demonstrate the industry’s growing concern with the conservation and restoration of quarries. Considering the short-term and long-term impact of a quarrying operation is no longer an afterthought for cement companies. This is not to say that the industry has achieved perfect practise however, as the art of quarry rehabilitation is a continuous learning process with much progress still to be made.Developments in the cement industry’s wider thinking concerning environmental conservation are abundant in this month’s issue. October’s Keynote engages with similar ideas as do our features on Air Pollution Control and Waste Heat Recovery. All examples of our industry’s increasing focus on reducing its lasting impact on the world around us. We hope you enjoy this issue of World Cement and if you picked up a copy at the International Lime Association General Assembly in Washington, don’t forget to visit to subscribe and receive more world-class technological updates for the international cement industry.