Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Strategy for Industrial Limestone



Sites promoted by operators for allocation in the Minerals Local Plan

Whitwell Quarry

Dolomites with sufficiently low levels of impurities for industrial uses are comparatively scarce in the UK.[1] Whitwell, operated by Lafargetarmac is only one of three active quarries in UK mining ‘industrial Dolomite’ and therefore of national importance.  The quarried mineral feeds the adjacent kilns, operated by Lhoist, to produce calcined dolomite that is used in the manufacture of refractory products that are sold worldwide.

A key factor in the way that Whitwell quarry is worked is the need for flexibility to enable any changes in market specification to be easily met. The chemical variations of the deposit, combined with variations on kiln feed demand; require that different areas of the quarry have to be worked at the same time. It is this flexibility that helps to conserve the scarce high grade materials for high grade use and enables the company to produce a range of products which assists their competitiveness in the market.

In 2002 planning permission was granted to extend the quarry in five separate areas; these sites were allocated in the adopted Minerals Local Plan, 2000. Information from the operator estimates that the current annual production of industrial grade limestone from Whitwell is around 500,000 tonnes. Reserves of industrial grade limestone at the end of 2012 totalled some 6.3 million tonnes (mt), according to the operator, which, if current production is maintained would be exhausted by 2025 i.e. before the end of the Plan period. The company has put forward five possible extension areas to Whitwell Quarry (one site is in Nottinghamshire), shown the Map – Whitwell Quarry. The promoted sites lying within the Plan area would generate an additional 4.3 mt of industrial grade limestone; the site in Nottinghamshire would generate approximately 10 mt.

Lying immediately south of the quarry and north of the proposed site in Nottinghamshire is Creswell Crags which is  an enclosed limestone gorge, where a cave complex preserves internationally unique evidence demonstrating how early prehistoric populations lived at the extreme northern limits of their territory during the Ice Age (Late Pleistocene). The Crags is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI); it is also on the tentative list for possible nomination as a World Heritage Site recognising its international importance. Current planning conditions and agreements are in place to protect the caves from any impacts from quarrying, which are chiefly, risks of damage and nuisance caused by blasting and any adverse impact on the setting of the Crags. Any proposals for future working would need to ensure the same level of protection.

Duty to Co-operate

In view of the fact that, the resource straddles the county boundary with Nottinghamshire and the Operator is promoting extensions to Whitwell quarry in both MPA areas, we are working closely with Nottinghamshire CC to develop a joint approach to the future development of the quarry. Nottinghamshire CC has published its Minerals Plan (preferred approach stage - winter 2013) in which an extension to the quarry is proposed, in order to contribute to the supply of industrial dolomite. Our Plan will need to take into account where this site fits in the overall future development of Whitwell quarry together with the sites being promoted by the operator for working in the Derbyshire and Derby Plan area.

The extensions also lie on either side of Creswell Crags, A scheduled monument and site of special scientific interest and a potential world heritage site. Together with Nottinghamshire CC, therefore, we are jointly liaising with appropriate bodies, including English Heritage to ensure the continued protection of the Crags from any future mineral working.


Ashwood Dale Quarry

Ashwood Dale Quarry lies within the Carboniferous Limestone resource around the Buxton area. Limestone is extracted for both industrial and aggregate purposes; information from the operator[2] indicates that estimated annual future production rates amount to 135,000 tonnes of limestone for industrial purposes and 65,000 tonnes for aggregate uses. All stone processing occurs at Ashwood where the stone is crushed and milled; a small amount of product is taken to Dowlow quarry to be bagged.

The quarry produces industrial limestone products which are high purity, fine powders with exacting colour requirements and impurity constraints. Sales of industrial limestone products from Ashwood Dale are made up of 60% of various industrial powders, 20% animal feeds and 20% agricultural lime. The industrial powders are used in the following markets: ceramic tiles and refractories, glass production, adhesives and sealants, and resin polymers and fillers. Omya UK Ltd is particularly known for its industrial powders. The quarry supplies both local and national markets with industrial minerals.

The colour and chemical purity of the limestone are critical for the sale of industrial products. The quarry contains two types of limestone the lighter coloured high quality industrial stone and the darker aggregate stone. The light stone is capable of producing industrial products without blending, however the darker stone cannot produce industrial products unless it is blended with the lighter stone. The actual amount of blending depends on the level of calcium carbonate and colour within the working faces at any particular time. Blends of up to 50% of each material have been historically possible but often the blends require more than 50% of the lighter stone. In recent years it has not been possible to carry out any blending but it is the intention to do this again to maximise the amount of industrial mineral if the dark stone is found to be suitable.

The current permitted reserves total approximately 15.0 million tonnes in total. Approximately 1.6 mt are light coloured stone and 13.4 mt are dark coloured stone. At the proposed production rates the light coloured stone will last for less than 12 years and therefore run out during the Plan period; the dark limestone would last for more than 200 years. This does not allow for blending of materials to increase the amount of industrial limestone products.

The Company’s proposed extension area would yield approximately 4.8 mt of predominantly light stone although the dark stone here is of better quality then the dark stone in the existing quarry. It is proposed to blend the light and dark stone within the extension area at a ratio of 71%/29% in order to maximise the amount of industrial stone produced. All the stone from the extension area would be used for industrial products.

Additionally, the Company do not propose to extract the three quarry benches below the current quarry floor, the permitted areas along the northern boundary of the existing quarry with Cunningdale or the eastern most area of consented reserves. Planning permission to extract in these areas, amounting to 10 mt of dark stone, would be relinquished as part of the extension proposals. This could be a benefit for the adjoining Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in so far that it should help avoid any hydrological impacts on the SAC/SSSI system.

The proposed development of the quarry and extension areas would yield a total of 9.8 million tonnes comprising 6.4 mt of light coloured limestone and 3.4 mt of dark coloured stone. This compares to the current 15.0 million tonnes of permitted within the existing site.

Duty to cooperate

Previous reference has been made to a ‘duty to cooperate’ matter in relation to the High Peak Local Plan (HPLP) Submission (April 2014). The issue involves a conflict of interest between a proposed housing site in the HPLP and the quarry extension put forward by the operator, as shown on the Map – Ashwood Dale Quarry.  The solution agreed by Omya UK, the Borough and County and City Councils and put forward to the HPLP Inspector to enable both developments to proceed would result in a modest relinquishment of mineral resources, approximately 200,000 tonnes which equates to 1.6 years supply of industrial grade stone from the proposed extension area.



[1] British Geological Survey, Mineral Planning Factsheet Dolomite, p5,2006

[2] Ashwood Dale Quarry, Request for a Regulation 13 Scoping Opinion, Omya UK Ltd, October 2014