Mineral products companies use a combination of road, rail, sea and river transport to move materials from where they are sourced and manufactured to where they are needed in construction.
Transport of minerals represents one of the single biggest costs to the industry, which goes to great length to maximise efficiency in the way raw materials and products are transported. Around 30 million tonnes of quarry products are transported outside of the road network each year (ie by rail or water).
Mineral products tend to be locally-sourced with around 80% used within a 30-mile radius of the quarry they came from. And the road network also reaches many more parts of the country than the rail or canal network. This means most raw materials or manufactured products have to be transported by road to their final point of use.
In addition, products like concrete and asphalt, both of which have a short shelf-life once mixed, must be manufactured close to where they are needed, then delivered rapidly and used quickly, otherwise they will set in transit and become unusable.
MPA members have been among the leaders in the nationwide effort to raise driving standards and improve road safety for vulnerable road users.
Transporting bulk materials by rail produces on average 75% lower carbon emissions than the equivalent road journeys. A typical train can carry around 1500 tonnes of aggregates, and the mineral products industry is one of the largest users of Britain’s rail freight network.
MPA member companies have invested heavily in rail facilities so they can transport as much bulk material as possible by train, especially over longer distances. This ensures regions of the country where demand is greater than the locally available mineral resources can be supplied. This is particularly the case in London, where large volumes of aggregates are brought in from elsewhere in the country.
Where aggregates are brought in by rail, lorries are required only for the last few miles. While this helps to keep the total number of lorry miles to a minimum, it requires unloading and handling facilities in city centres and other urban areas.
The industry also makes use of water transport where available. Besides bringing marine-dredged sand and gravel ashore for processing – the largest dredgers landing up to 10,000 tonnes, some MPA member companies also operate coastal quarries and quayside loading facilities which allow aggregates to be loaded onto ships carrying up to 100,000 tonnes at a time for transport to other parts of the country by sea (especially London).
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries.