Senator Gardner tours Colorado Stone Quarries

Photo by Pat Sunderland U.S. Senator Cory Gardner looks at a sample of marble tile that's currently being imported from Italy. When a production facility is completed in Delta, tiles and slabs can be produced locally from the marble quarried in Marble. Ge

On Monday, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) was interested to hear how a quarry operation in Marble is boosting the economy of both Delta and Gunnison counties. He visited Colorado Stone Quarries south of Delta with two staff members and Delta County commissioners Don Suppes and Mike Lane.

General manager Daniele Treves explained how the quarry operation has been expanded since it was purchased by RED Graniti in 2011. The Italy-based, multinational corporation has invested millions of dollars in western Colorado. The Marble quarry is now known as the Pride of America mine with portals named after the nation's early presidents -- Washington, Lincoln, Adams, Jefferson and others.

The massive blocks of marble are trucked over McClure Pass to the plant in Delta, then transported via truck or rail to shipping terminals in Norfolk, Va., or Houston, Texas. From there the marble is shipped to Italy, where much of it is cut into tiles and slabs to meet the growing demand for high-end marble finishes both domestically and around the world.

Because much of the marble winds up back in the U.S., Colorado Stone Quarries is planning a production facility that will utilize one of the most technologically advanced cutting systems in the world. The production facility will also be located in Delta, in a second free standing building on the property at 1734 Highway 50.

Treves told the senator that he expects to add 15 to 20 employees when that production facility is up and running in late 2019. Much of the equipment, and two employees with the technical know-how to operate that equipment, will be coming from Italy, he said. The rest of the employees will be hired locally. Treves said the majority of his employees at both the quarry and the production facility are residents of Delta County.

Treves mentioned that the Marble quarry is supplying marble for repairs to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The iconic structure is made of pure white Calacatta marble from Colorado, while the marble for the floor and Lincoln's statue came from Georgia.

Colorado Stone Quarries is also bidding on supplies for a memorial at New York City's Ground Zero that will consist of thin slices of marble encased in glass. Architects designed the stone-glass facade to be naturally translucent. During the night, the structure will be illuminated from the interior, giving it a glowing amber appearance.

Colorado Stone Quarries does not have the capability to cut the marble to the thickness required, but Treves sees the possibility of future expansion to provide cut-to-size services.

At the quarry itself, a tower is being erected that will offer an overview of mining operations. Tourists will be able to safely watch the activity in a portal without interfering with mining.

The marble was first discovered in 1873, and today is quarried inside a mountain at 10,000 feet above sea level, unlike most marble that's quarried from an open pit and at much lower elevations.

Senator Gardner had several questions about federal regulations and compliance with county regulations. Striving to be a good neighbor, Colorado Stone Quarries has erected a huge berm on the north edge of its Delta property that's intended to keep noise and dust down. Access to the facility has also been modified, to direct the huge semi trucks away from the homes on the north side of 1700 Road. A large parking area has been designated for overnight stops, again situated away from the homes.

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