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Green light for lightweight-aggregates plant

S.GRUNDON (Ewelme) Ltd have been awarded planning permission for a new lightweight-aggregate plant at their Bishops Cleeve Quarry in Gloucestershire.

The first of its kind in the country, the plant will utilize the quarry's reserves of Blue Lias clay to produce a valuable building material that is being increasingly used in the UK construction industry. The material is created by the thermal treatment of clay pellets; during firing at around 1,000oC the pellets expand to form the lightweight aggregate.

Originally used for ornamental purposes, lightweight aggregate is now being used in more demanding construction applications such as cavity wall insulation. It is also used as a foundation material for roads built over waterlogged land and as an aggregate substitute in the construction of free-spanning concrete structures.

'There is a huge domestic demand for this material but currently all the UK's lightweight aggregate is imported,' commented development director Neil Grundon. 'Although the UK has vast reserves of clay, there are very few sites that produce a material with the high-strength and low-absorption characteristics needed to make an expanded clay aggregate.

'The clay at Bishops Cleeve has all the properties required to make a lightweight aggregate that meets the rigorous demands of the UK construction industry.' Grundon are now looking for business partners to help develop the business.

'The new plant will require us to utilize our existing skills but will also take us into a totally new area of materials processing and production,' said Mr Grundon.

'It is our intention to combine our skills with those of a plant manufacturer or block producer to bring a much-needed source of lightweight aggregates to the UK.'

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