At the last minute, we learned that OMYA was conducting tours at their Tatlock Quarry on Saturday.
This is a fascinating calcium carbonate (ie marble) mine that used to be visible from the Tatlock Road. At some point, OMYA needed to have the road moved so that they could expand their operations. Although there is still a publicly accessible view, it is often blocked from visitors due to road conditions.
Anyway, the short story is that we had been thwarted from seeing the quarry a number of times since the move, so we latched onto this opportunity eagerly, despite the dreary and rainy weather.
OMYA had rented several buses to take us down into the pit, each with a guide armed with good information.
This is our guide as well as the bus driver. You can see some of our view through the window.
It looked very deep and like a dangerous ride down from up top. In fact, it is 120 metres deep, 1 kilometre long, and .5 kilometer wide (all round and approximate figures).
For a sense of scale, you can see another tour bus on the other side.
It is the white marble or calcium carbonate that OMYA wants from the quarry, and you can see some of the good stuff in the next photo.
Actually, the ride down wasn't scary on the wide benches that seemed like normal roads. The incline wasn't all that steep. Once at the bottom, it sure didn't feel as deep as it looked from up above. Here's our bus on the mine floor after we disembarked. Notice the whiteness of the floor.
Following are two panos that I took. The first consists of 4 horizontal shots and the second 7 vertical shots. The second, in particular, was a huge file.
I took the next photo because it clearly shows a vein of black rock running through the whiter marble. It came from subsequent volcanic intrusions. I believe the guide called it diabase.
Back up top, we saw the crushing operation from a distance and some of the results in this next photo, which also shows some of the equipment. The calcium carbonate is used in all sorts of products as a thickener and/or whitener: such as paints, plastics, crayons, carpet backing, floor tiles, and paper and packaging.
Up top, we were provided with drinks and snacks, but I didn't take pictures until I came across this cute thing in the parking lot.
Thanks for doing this OMYA. It was a real treat.