PRODUCTION at a South Tyneside quarry is being ramped up following a £240,000 investment in new equipment.
Owen Pugh Aggregates, owner of Marsden Quarry in Whitburn, has taken delivery of two new screeners to separate materials at the site.
Each model is capable of processing up to 1,400 tons of material a day, 40 per cent up on what the previous machinery could manage.
The quarry supplies construction aggregates and agricultural limestone to clients both in the UK and overseas.
The investment has already improved production outputs on site by reducing lost time and lowering maintenance costs.
Andy Mountford, Owen Pugh’s general manager at Marsden Quarry, said: “The investment in the new screeners will ensure we can continue to meet the demand of markets in a timely manner.
“We’re already seeing the benefits, with weekly production up by as much as 10 per cent.
“Their durable design enables the machines to handle a diverse range of materials, including limestone as well as sand and gravel, crushed stone, coal, topsoil and demolition waste.”
The new investment has resulted in what the firm describes as a “slight increase” in the number of lorries travelling to and from the quarry.
The operators have not always had a harmonious relationship with residents living near the site, many of whom have called for it to be converted into a coastal park.
Concerns have been raised about the impact that vibrations and emissions caused by operations there on nearby properties.
However, in 2013, Owen Pugh gained approval from South Tyneside Council’s planning committee to continue its operations at the quarry beyond an initial 18-month trial basis. That approval kept up a tradition of quarrying at the site stretching back over 100 years.
Approval was granted on the condition that a wheel wash is maintained on site at all times and that measures are taken to prevent dust emissions.
Whitburn ward councillor Tracey Dixon, also the council’s lead member for area management and community safety, welcomed the new investment, adding: “It is paramount that the company operates within the letter of the law and, as a local authority, we will ensure that residents are protected from too much disturbance.
“In the long run, this investment may shorten the lifespan of the quarry, to the benefit of the local community.”