Marine Aggregates Resources
Heidelberg Materials Aggregates Marine is the largest dredged aggregates operator in the UK. With dredgers ranging in capacity from 1,250 to 8,000 tonnes, the fleet lands cargos throughout England and Wales and to continental ports in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Heidelberg Materials Aggregates Marine has access to reserves spread strategically around the coast but concentrated in the Bristol Channel, the South Coast/East English Channel area, Outer Thames, Anglian and Humber regions. The reserves and resources available to Aggregates Marine are managed by the marine resources team based in Southampton. The team comprises resource geologists, environmental/benthic ecologists and GIS and licensing/permitting specialists, with support from staff in the wider Heidelberg Materials organisation.
Unlike aggregate resources on land, which are mainly in private ownership, all off shore minerals – up to the 12 mile territorial limit – are owned by the Crown Estate and their exploitation is the subject to strict controls. The marine resources team is responsible for the extensive permitting and licensing activities necessary to maintain access to these high-quality reserves. This includes ensuring that the navigational and licence information systems are up to date and communicated to the fleet and highlight those areas where dredging may and may not take place. Exclusion zones can be included based on seasonal requirements for fisheries, or on the discovery of a wreck or other features of archaeological importance.
Marine sand and gravel resources vary in thickness and quality, as well as their proximity to markets. Unlike land-based quarry sites, production from marine resources does not always take place in the same deposit and is driven by customer demand. Screening takes place on board the dredgers to ensure that the optimum use is made of the resource and to limit the amount discarded following dredging. The selection of a particular deposit and area of a deposit to produce the required quality of product is undertaken by the marine resources team in co-operation with the marine operations team. Such co-operation ensures that deposit recovery is optimised while ensuring operational costs are effectively managed.