Plot the perfect location for an ultra-hard rock quarry in one of the nation’s hottest infrastructure markets and your finger would land on Savage Stone, LLC. The 400-acre quarry is situated in Jessup, Maryland, flanked by Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Drive on any main artery around the metro region and you are likely riding on stone from Savage Quarry.
Says Gary Long, Plant Manager, “What makes this stone unique is that it is Baltimore gabbro, a granite-like rock that makes it preferred for coarse road base because the hardness gives you durability and a ultimately a smoother ride. None of our product goes to asphalt plants or concrete, it is all road base aggregate.” North of 600 tri-axles haul stone daily from Savage to highway projects within a 60-mile radius. That’s equates to one truck one per minute over a 10-hour day.
Savage’s parent company, Laurel Sand & Gravel, was founded by Kingdon Gould and family in 1982 in its namesake town. As reserves dwindled at existing quarries, the family scouted geological maps that indicated Jessup may have potential large stores of Baltimore gabbro. Zoom out and you’ll spot another uncommon aspect of Savage Stone’s location: just beyond its buffer ring of trees lie sprawling residential neighborhoods and upmarket shopping centers.
Unlike established quarries that can benefit from being grandfathered into high population area zoning ordinances, Savage Stone is a relative newcomer to the area. Before opening in 2004, the quarry had to earn the community’s trust that its operations would not affect quality of life. It kept its word and today, the quarry is one of Jessup’s biggest benefactors.
THE ONLY WAY IS DOWN
At Savage Stone, gabbro is mined from five, 43-foot tall benches, with chemical rock hardness increasing with each lower level. The shot rock is loaded into Volvo 35- and 40-ton articulated haul trucks and 100-ton Euclid rigids and transported a half mile uphill to the primary crusher, a Lippmann 5062 jaw crusher. The jaw crusher processes rock to 5-7 inches, then is stockpiled on the surge pile for the finishing plant, where it is crushed to 1 ½ minus.
Stephanie Poole, Mining Engineer and Pit Supervisor, explains that the quarry has exhausted its pit boundaries to the north and west so expansion is moving to the south side of the pit and into lower levels of rock reserves. “As the pit deepened our haul roads grew longer and increased cycle time, which in turn slowed production. We instead looked at the economic aspect of putting the primary crusher closer to the deposits and hauling rock downhill,” she says.
HARD ROCK NUMBERS
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR…
Working in the shadows of sprawling residential neighborhoods keeps Savage on a strict works schedule. The quarry operates Monday-Friday only and keeps blasts contained to mid-day, twice a week. Prior to every blast, Savage calls to inform all nearby residents. Advancements in blasting technology mean detonation has minimal impact; even at the pit rim the blast is no more than a muffled boom and a slight ground shake. And over the past dozen years Savage has kept its promise to invest in the area, for example, by building the Ridgely’s Run Community Center.
The expansion will give Savage future reserves and as a result, dependable employment. That’s what first drew Gary to the aggregates industry decades ago.
He says, “My father was an equipment operator and was considered to be one of the best. I used to go to job sites with him and as I learned from him, I thought, what am I going to do when I grow up? I was in between jobs at the time; the company I worked for had left the country. Well, quarries don’t leave the country. I started in quality control and the sales side, then got into the mobile equipment and became a plant operator, then shift supervisor.”
Gary turns to look at the train of equipment around him working in tandem to load, haul and crush. “Who cannot love this game? This is something kids dream about.”