Primary school children visit Ballystockart Quarry
Whitemountain introduce primary school children to minerals extractives industries with quarry visits
INTRODUCING the next generation to the workings of the minerals extractives industries through open days and public tours plays a key role in securing the future of quarrying.
Institute of Quarrying (IQ) member Pat O’Connor MIQ is quarry manager at Whitemountain’s Ballystockart Quarry in Northern Ireland and has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He recently welcomed a group of around 20 children from Loughries Integrated Primary School, outside Newtownards in Co. Down, on an informative and instructive tour of the quarry.
The children had a chance to meet some of the team on site, ask questions and get their photographs taken with plant machinery. Accompanied by three teachers, they also had the opportunity to learn about sustainability initiatives which Whitemountain are currently involved with, and on a more serious note they learned about how dangerous quarries can be and why they are not safe places for children to play in.
Mr O’Connor said: ‘The children were here before and were promised a second visit, but because of the COVID-19 restrictions they weren’t able to until now. It’s been a bad year for all of us, but especially for children, so they were delighted to finally get out of the classroom again.’
On the school’s website, the children commented: ‘We were able to plant flowers in the lovely Loughries planters that the quarry had made for us, this was so much fun! We also had a visit from a beekeeper who was able to tell us so many facts about honey bees, and teacher Clare Bowers made sure to take notes. Everyone really enjoyed the visit and Whitemountain Quarries treated us to lots of lovely goodies before we left. We can’t wait for our next visit!’
Mr O’Connor continued: ‘It’s really good to have the opportunity to educate local children about operations within our company and open their minds to an industry which is so intrinsically linked to every aspect of their lives, with materials from quarries used to build homes, schools, and roads. We recently acquired a brand-new 60-tonne Komatsu 465 dumptruck, and the children were over the moon to get their photographs taken with it.’
He also revealed that Whitemountain plan to build an observation post from where future visitors will be able to have an overview of the work that goes on in the quarry from a safe distance. ‘We are hoping to have the children back again sometime soon; indeed, if any school is interested in having a guided tour of our quarry, they just need to get in contact. We would be delighted to have them.’