They say a week is a long time in politics, but 50 years is an eternity when it comes to innovations in the recycling of materials.
The first 16 years of Mone Brothers’ existence focused mainly on wagon and plant hire, maintenance and bulk excavations but, gradually, the company recognised the growing importance of recycling, especially in regard to demolition and road construction waste.
The business was founded in 1965 in Gildersome, near Leeds, by three brothers: my father Philip, James and John Mone. They could not have known then how the business would expand over the years, but a strong work ethic and a commitment to teamwork has reaped dividends.
Mone Brothers is still very much a family concern, with John and James at the helm and the next generation in Kevin, James junior, Joseph and myself involved in the business. Also on the board are operations director Steve Horsley, financial director Andrew Slater and transport director Derek Flatters.
Our current headquarters in Morley is only a few miles away from where it all started, but we now operate three more sites with quarries at Eggborough, Bramhope and New Farnley. Blackhill Quarry at Bramhope was pur- chased in 1981 and was our first foray into quarrying. It is a sandstone quarry which we initially used for making sand and gravels with a static Leeds-made Baxter Jaw crusher. Around 1985, my father purchased various Italian stone saws and started producing walling stone. He went on to employ stone dressers to make products such as fireplaces and window surrounds.
We started tipping at the quarry within a couple of years, and then the screening, crushing and recycling business followed. Our first mobile crusher was a wheeled Kue Ken. It was state-of-the-art in those days but woefully slow and small by today’s standards.
Our Whitehall recycling depot at New Farnley was purchased in the late 1980s and was used mainly for producing 6F2 re- cycled material for fill and topsoil. It was not until 2008 that the company started to produce recycled type 1 aggregate, under the Yorkshire Highways and Utilities Committee accreditation.
Extec provided most of the mobile plant that we used, ranging from Megabite crushers and Turbo Trac screeners to the latest Sandvik QJ341 crushers and QE341 screens. In 2015 we bought our second Kleeman MC110Z EVO crusher, which produces material down to a type 1 size without the need for an extra screen, which obviously cuts down on fuel and maintenance.
Eggborough Quarry, near Selby, was taken on four years ago. It produces red sand used for utility works backfill. The quarry is also an inert landfill site and permitted to recycle incoming waste materials.
When I joined the business in 1984, recycling was not at the forefront of people’s minds and the mobile plant was not as suit- able or as readily available as it is now. Concrete, brick, tarmac and topsoil were rarely segregated but usually mixed and tipped together in landfill.
Mone Brothers’ move into recycling was a natural step to make: having our own excavators and tipper wagons and carrying out our own excavation contracts made sense. A certified bulk fill was often required, and the most cost-effective way to deliver that was by recycling the waste we produced while also saving on tipping costs.
In the early days the recycling feedstock was mainly brought in by ourselves from our own sites and contracts. Nowadays most demolition sites recycle their arisings to save on costs associated with getting rid of waste.
It also saves money for developers in terms of getting aggregates in.
Along with some demolition sites and road construction works, a lot of our feedstock now comes from utility companies’ arisings which are mainly soil, stones and tarmac.
Because landfill sites are dwindling in number, our recycling sites have taken on more significance and are at the heart of our business operations, overtaking our plant hire and contracts activities. Increasing environmental awareness has also led to the growth in recycling. When you produce high-quality aggregates, stringently tested to our county’s HAUC standards, utility and civil engineering companies become ever more confident in using recycled materials.
Mone Brothers successfully negotiated a passage through the recession and is now witnessing a real growth in demand from customers, particularly in regard to recycled aggregates. We mainly produce type 1 and a structural materials for reinstatement (SMR) product for civil engineering, highways and utilities. We are also currently exploring options for the manufacture of a hydraulically bound material. This and SMR are screened soil and aggregate products that are mixed with a binding agent and solidify when compacted to produce a defect-free backfill for utility trenches.
We currently work with many well-known organisations including Northern Gas Net- works, Northern Power Grid, Yorkshire Water and Morrison Utilities
To celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, we commissioned a series of short videos covering our history, drone fly-bys over our quarry sites and the different kinds of aggregate that we supply (see above). Who knows what the next 50 years will hold for the recycling industry, but I am certain that the Mone family will still be involved in some way
Quarrying in action
A video produced recently at Blackhill Quarry, in Bramhope near Leeds, revealed some explosive action. There are four ‘big blasts’ a year, with the latest detonation shifting more than 10,000 tonnes of rock to uncover stone that has not seen the light of day for millions of years.
Director Kevin Mone explained: “We drilled seven metres down through sandstone to a clay seam in order to carry out the blast.
“The large boulders from the blast are sawn for use as walling, fireplaces and other stonework features, while the smaller rocks are perfect for rockeries and dry stone walling. The remaining stone is crushed for use as sand and gravel.
“We do find some fossils in the stones but they are generally from a bamboo-like plant.”
The video, produced by Tadah! Media and set to classical music, features slow motion camera coverage of the explosion.
Phil Mone is director of Mone Brothers