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Quarry Products

Aggregates provide the backbone of our world.

An end-product in themselves, aggregates are also a raw material used in the manufacture of other vital construction products such as ready-mixed concrete, asphalt, lime and mortar.

Take away aggregates and our built environment would quite literally fall apart!

In a typical year, we need around 205 million tonnes of aggregates in the UK, some four tonnes for every man woman and child. Around 90 per cent of all aggregates are used by the construction industry.

Uses of aggregates

The main end-uses of aggregates are:

Three main types of rock are used to produce crushed rock aggregates:
The UK's road network handles some 94 per cent of passenger travel and more than 60 per cent of freight. Aggregates feature at all levels of the road construction (technically known as the "pavement") up to the surface which includes aggregates resistant to polishing, ensuring skid-resistance. Quarrying Image
Railways need some three million tonnes of aggregates a year as track ballast. Quarrying Image
The construction of a typical new house uses up to 50 tonnes of aggregates - from the foundations through to the roof tiles. Quarrying Image
Other buildings and structures
From your local hospital to the Channel Tunnel - all are made possible by aggregates. In many cases they provide not just strength but, through special finishes, architectural beauty. Quarrying Image
The water industry
Aggregates are needed to build and maintain our reservoirs and sewage treatment works. They have played a major role in the massive programme launched by water companies to overcome shortages. Quarrying Image


Quarrying ImageTypes of aggregate

We are fortunate that aggregates are plentiful in most parts of the UK so that local resources can be used in the main to satisfy local needs.

With the cost often doubling for each 30 miles travelled, aggregates are only transported long distances when it is absolutely necessary.

The resources are not, however, distributed evenly and some inter-regional movement is necessary. The South East, for example, has its own supplies of sand and gravel but relies heavily on importation of crushed rock from the East Midlands and South West, largely by rail. A small proportion of aggregates either with special properties, e.g. skid resistance, or meeting a shortage in another country are exported by large ships.

Crushed Rock

Three main types of rock are used to produce crushed rock aggregates:
Igneous Quarrying Image
Solidified molten rocks (eg basalt, granite)
Created by settlement of particles (eg gritstones) or organic remains (eg limestone) in ancient seas
Created by heat or pressure (eg hornfels, quartzites)


Quarrying ImageSand and Gravel

Sand and gravel derives from the erosion of particles that were transported and deposited by water or ice.

Sand quarries are usually shallow, sometimes only five or six metres deep. Operations are likely to be shorter term than for a rock quarry and, with progressive restoration normally following closely behind extraction, the working area at any time is usually comparatively small. Sand and gravel can also be dredged from licensed areas in coastal waters using purpose built dredgers. See also the Marine Aggregates page.


European Standards For Aggregates

The European Standards for aggregates were originally implemented on 1st January 2004 when the British Standards for Aggregates used in the construction sector such as BS882, BS1199/1200 and BS63, were replaced with a new series of European Standards for Aggregates for use in concrete, mortar, asphalt, railway ballast and armourstone or used in their unbound and hydraulically bound forms. These standards are accompanied by their national guidance documents, the Published Documents (PDs), which interpret the requirements of the hENs as applied within the UK, and are identified in the list below.

Whilst the aggregates have remained the same, the terminology, product descriptions, standard sieve sizes, grading presentation and test methods have changed with Type Testing, Factory Production Control (FPC) and CE Marking being introduced .

The information provided at that time can be downloaded from the documents listed below:

Bulletin 1 - Aggregates EN-day is fast approaching - approx 320kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 2 - Aggregates for concrete - approx 88kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 3 - Aggregates for mortar - approx 84kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 4 - Aggregates for asphalt and surface treatments - approx 88kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 5 - Aggregates for unbound and hydraulically bound uses - approx 196kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Bulletin 6 - Type 1 granular sub-base and other unbound mixtures - approx 320kb Download PDF PDF downloadhelp

The Construction Products Regulation and CE Marking

From the 1 July 2013 all construction products supplied in conformity with a harmonized European Standard, known as a hEN (this short term does not appear on the standards themselves), have to be CE marked before they can be legally placed on the market. Further details on the principles of CE marking are available here and in the 'Additional Information' documents at the bottom of this page.

The hENs, along with their national guidance documents, the Published Documents (PDs), which interpret the requirements of the hENs as applied within the UK, are identified in the list below and can be obtained from BSI at

BS EN 12620:2002 (PD 6682-1): Aggregates for Concrete
BS EN 13043:2002 (PD 6682-2): Aggregates for bituminous mixtures and surface treatments for roads, airfields and other trafficked areas
BS EN 13139:2002 (PD 6682-3): Aggregates for Mortar
BS EN 13242:2002 (PD 6682-6): Aggregates for unbound and hydraulically bound materials for use in civil engineering work and road construction
BS EN 13450:2002 (PD 6682-8): Aggregates for Railway Ballast
BS EN 13383-1:2002 (PD 6682-7): Armourstone Part 1 Specification

All these European Standards are now nearing the end of their extended 5 year review and work is ongoing to not only revised the Product Standards but also on a delegated act to adjust the aggregates mandate (For further information please refer to the MPA Briefing note number 17 2017). The projected completion of this process and the publication of these standards is expected around Q4 2018 to Q1 2019.. The versions published during 2013 were withdrawn under instruction from the European Commission due to some small technical changes being made to some of the standards during the final editorial checking process.  (For further information please refer to the MPA Briefing note number 17 2017).

There will be a new standard published as part of the family of aggregate standards, BS EN 16236. This new standard will contain all the Type Testing and Factory Production Control requirements which are currently included in each of the individual aggregate product standards.

The Evaluation of conformity of aggregates - Initial Type Testing and Factory Production Control is covered in the annexes of the individual product standards until BS EN 16236 is published which is anticipated in Q2/Q3 2018. However, it should be noted that BS EN 16236 once published must not be implemented against the 2002 versions of the Aggregates Product Standards and should only be implemented once called up by the publication of the revised Aggregate Product Standards.

The one standard which is not currently harmonized is BS EN 13285:2010 - 'Unbound Mixtures - Specifications'. Unbound mixtures, notably Type 1 and other granular sub-bases - Specification for Highway Works (SHW) 800 series, and imported fill materials - SHW 600 series, therefore cannot be CE marked. However, the aggregates used to produce the unbound mixtures which have to be in conformity with BS EN 13242, do require CE marking. When an unbound mixture e.g. sub-base is supplied and information is required both on the aggregates used and for the mixture itself, the producer will generally supply a summary of the aggregate properties along with any specific test information for the mixture. BS EN 13285 should be published harmonizedin line with the publication of the other Aggregate product standards,nevertheless due to similar issus to the Aggregate Product Standards BS EN 13285 will remain non-hamonized for the foreseeable future.

Guidance on the distributor's responsibilities under CPR, particularly in respect to the supply of bagged aggregates, can be found in a Construction Products Association (CPA) guidance document which can be downloaded below.

Additional Information    
MPA Briefing - MPA Update on the Development of European Aggregate Standards Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
CE Marking of Harmonised Construction Products Webpage PDF downloadhelp
Legal Obligations of Distributors under CPR Download PDF PDF downloadhelp
Guidance Note on the Construction Products Regulation - October 2014 Download PDF PDF downloadhelp

For further information contact

Please note this website is maintained to provide information and guidance on UK issues, products and applications of those products.


Each of us needs some four tonnes of aggregates every year

For more information on aggregates, please contact ( or phone us on 020 7963 8000

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