Stone and environment
On the downside of quarrying, there is its disturbance and encroachment upon the natural setting, noise from machinery and explosives and quarry stone dust in the air and water.
However, what is often regarded as the biggest problem with natural stone production is the high quantity of waste produced compared to, for example, crushed stone production. In Scandinavia the utilization rate of material from natural stone quarry lies between 5 and 20 percent. The waste is either left near the quarry , or be it can be used in other ways; such as, crushed stone, constructing stone breakwaters, fill material, masonry stone, etc.
In some quarries the quality of the remaining material is high, and everything can be used. Or, the local market's demand for the waste material is high. In other places it can be considerably more difficult to find local users, and ways must be found to properly dispose waste masses.
The masses of stone waste aren't hazardous - it has exactly the same composition as the bedrock from which it was quarried. In the language of the stone industry, the terms 'by-product' and 'residue material' instead of waste is preferred, precisely because the masses are harmless and can be used for a variety of purposes when demand is there. We could say that the waste from the natural stone-extraction is considerably more environmentally-friendly compared to the waste from manufacturing of a wide range of other products.
Today stone is usually extracted by sawing, which can lead to the accumulation of fine stone dust, that must be collected before it reaches the drainage systems.
Production of Natural Stone is in general energy efficient, particularly in the case of slate, which is "finished" easily into slabs, with the help of nature. The largest consumption of energy in natural stone production is likely transport; first, the internal transport, then the transport of blocks to the processing factory, and finally the transport of finished products to the market. Today many stone blocks are transported across the entire globe before reaching their final destination.
Natural stone is part of the bedrock foundation of Norway, with all its strengths and weaknesses. Some rock types may contain varying levels of radioactive minerals or asbestos, which has carefully researched. Fortunately, so far it has been shown that natural stone in Norway is free from such minerals.
Over all Europe there has been strong revitalization of the natural stone industry, to comply with new definitions of environmental and sustainable production. The increasing number marble quarries in southern Europe will moved underground, in order to minimize the effects of the industry on the local communities. In addition, larger proportions of the extracted rock material is being used. Modern technology, particularly sawing techniques, are more sensitive and cause less damage. Water recycling routines have been become the norm, and plans must be in approved for rehabilitation of old quarries, even before activity can start.