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Longcliffe Quarries, Derbyshire, UK

Case study

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Independent, family-owned business Longcliffe Quarries is fast approaching its milestone centenary celebrations.

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To mark the occasion, it has committed to a series of ambitious sustainability targets and has partnered with CDE, the industry-leading manufacturer of wet processing technologies, to help realise its environmental objectives and strengthen its position as a champion of sustainability in the UK’s quarrying sector.

Founded in 1927, Longcliffe Quarries is the largest independent supplier of calcium carbonates in the UK. By 2027, it hopes to achieve zero-carbon quarrying operations.

The Derbyshire-based business produces over one million tonnes of high-quality calcium carbonate powders and granules every year, quarried from pure limestone deposits at its Brassington Moor quarry.

Calcium carbonate forms the basis of many everyday products. Longcliffe Quarries Managing Director Viv Russell says it has “many applications” and that the company produces over 100 products for a vast range of “critical industries”.

Longcliffe Quarries’ calcium carbonate products are vital components in animal feeds and pet foods. Its powders and granules are also supplied into the glass, plastics, and pharmaceutical industries and many more.

Russell also explained, proudly, that sealants – or cure activators – produced by Longcliffe Quarries are used in fluoroelastomer docking seals on the International Space Station.

The Problem

In pursuit of its environmental commitments, the business sought to address the high volumes of waste generated at Brassington Moor quarry. “We are quite a wasteful industry,” Russell states, adding that Longcliffe Quarries generates “about 300,000 tonnes of waste per year”.

The business had historically discarded its quarry by-product, a material described as having a higher clay content. But feasibility studies and material testing to demonstrate market demand for products recovered from this stream highlighted the potential for Longcliffe Quarries to realise its commercial objectives without sacrificing its sustainability credentials.

The partnership with Longcliffe Quarries began several years ago. Following intensive testing in our lab, CDE demonstrated through on-site plant trails how our wet processing technology could process Longcliffe’s by-product into a very clean and high-value revenue stream.

“It was after a procurement process through which CDE proved its technical capability that workshops were launched in partnership with Longcliffe to co-design what would eventually become Longcliffe’s first-ever wet processing plant.” David Kinloch, CDE’s Director of Business Development in the UK and Ireland.

The CDE Solution


Collaboration and Integration 

CDE operates a unique co-design approach which involves working closely with its customers to design customised wet processing solutions which are tailored to meet their specified commercial and environmental objectives.

David Kinloch added that “One of the more unique aspects of this particular plant was how it integrated with Longcliffe’s existing primary crushing set-up. We introduced overland belt conveyors to charter product to the CDE wet processing plant.”


Innovative Technology

The resulting 220 tonnes per hour state-of-the-art wet processing plant represents the single largest investment Longcliffe Quarries has ever made.

Engineered to maximise product yield from heavy clay-bound feedstock, the plant features CDE’s signature AggMaxTM modular logwasher setup for scrubbing and sizing.

It also incorporates CDE’s patented EvoWashTM classification and dewatering system which offers greater efficiency compared to more traditional washing methods.

Central to the system and to addressing the availability of clean water on site is CDE’s AquaCycleTM thickener which allows for up to 90% of the process water to be recycled and recirculated back into the system, offering near-total independence from fresh water supplies.

Industry-leading water management means the CDE wash plant requires only a small top-up water supply resulting in a highly efficient system extending significant operational savings to Longcliffe Quarries.


The Result


High value outputs

Previously discarded clay-bound material is now being processed through the wet processing plant creating new, high-value revenue streams.

High-quality single-sized aggregates and sand grades are among the key products being recovered which is maximising available reserves and supporting Longcliffe Quarries to realise its environmental targets.

It’s a win-win scenario, as Viv Russell explains.

“We’re recovering up to six different products from heavily contaminated material. The CDE plant is producing a very, very clean product and one that we’re now able to turn into a higher value industrial material.”

This has led to a significant 12% reduction in the quarry's load and haul fuel usage and follows an almost 70% reduction in net emissions recorded at the quarry since 2014/15.

The quality of the washed aggregates has created new commercial opportunities for Longcliffe Quarries.

Russell noted, “We’re now supplying into both the ready-mix and decorative markets as a direct result of the quality of material output from the plant. We’re processing high volumes of low-grade feed and turning that into saleable products.”


Stewards of the environment

Russell also highlighted that the project will  create a competitive advantage in terms of its impact on the environment

“As we move towards a more circular driven economy, it’s vital that the industry continues to adapt. Our investments in renewable energy and this wet processing plant demonstrate our commitment to sustainability.

“In hard economic terms, if planning permission is to be granted then we want to be seen as the supplier of choice. Yes, the steps we are taking now offer immediate returns, but longer term they also position Longcliffe as a socially responsible business committed to the Derbyshire Dales.”


Technology and the future

James Thone, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Quarrying, commented that technology is reshaping how the industry operates.

“There’s been a massive change in technology…and I think that’s really exciting. We’re only going to see more of that. The industry has always adapted to changes and utilised technologies coming in to its benefit to make it better and more efficient – and safer.”

He believes the Longcliffe Quarries wet processing plant will generate significant interest from across the industry.

“Projects like this are the future. It makes sense to do these kinds of things and I think the industry will view this with a real interest, particularly when you look at the big picture of the issues we’re facing as a society.”

The integration of technology and IT in the plant has impressed the team at Longcliffe Quarries.

“Due to the IT related to the plant, if we’ve got an unforeseen problem then CDE often knows about it before we do. That gives us the confidence and reassurance that we are working with the right team.”

It features CDE CORE, a suite of smart technology tools that offers plant operators greater control over their plant and access to real-time data on how their plant is operating to maximise plant uptime and throughput.  This was important to both companies, exemplifying their partnership and shared ethos. 

 David Kinloch concluded: “The plant, a fully optimised turnkey solution, will provide Longcliffe with the capacity to utilise available resources to their fullest potential by extracting maximum value from previously disregarded by-product material due to its high clay content. This will facilitate the company’s growth and further strengthen our shared purpose for a sustainable future.”

Viv Russell, Managing Director, Longcliffe Quarries

“We’re recovering up to six different products from heavily contaminated material. The CDE plant is producing a very, very clean product and one that we’re now able to turn into a higher value industrial material.”

Longcliffe Quarries, Derbyshire, UK