Implantation of quarries in Burgundy

Interview with the head of quarries in Burgundy for the DRIRE


How is it decided and who decides to open a quarry? What is the procedure?

In France, we calculate the use of 7-12 tons of aggregates per inhabitant per year. For this reason, quarries are exploited all over the country but strictly controlled and moderated by specific administrations. There is no over-exploitation. The number of quarries opened in each region is limited to the needs of the population and organized in relation to these needs and to environmental concerns. The are inventoried and charted out in each department in terms of capacity. The charts include maps describing the region and the different geological and geographical constraints. These charts provide valuable information for environmental protection.


What sort of cartographic indications are given?

Obviously there are easement zones, protected areas, water sources, zones peripheral to underground gas canalizations, etc. Maps are useful for prospecting as well as for decision making over the opening of a quarry.

See the website PIERBOURGOGNE for information on Burgundy stones

This first step responds to concerns over quarries comprised of alluvial matter, but what about massive rock quarries?

In the case of ornamental rock, the procedure for obtaining authorization to open a quarry is the same, however notions of quantity and rationning differ totally.

Can you explain the procedure for opening a quarry of massive rock?

The procedure is done by ordonnance of the Prefecture. It is long and must respond to numerous criteria, for example how it will be integrated in the landscape and concerns of environmental protection. A thorough impact study must be conducted by the future quarryman taking into consideration the before, during and after exploitation. The proposal must meet demands of flora and fauna conservation, meteorology and hydrogeology. It must also take into account disturbances such as noise, pollution, dust, vibrations or general traffic related to the activity.... He is obliged to foresee ways to reduce if not avoid these nuisances during exploitation.

Who decides whether a project is valid and what are the various steps of validation?


As I mentioned before, the Prefect has the last word. To assist his decision, a public inquiry is set up to sound out the neighbouring populations concerned. For villages situated near the quarry site, announcements of the project are posted and municipal councils present their points of view. Other associative entities may be invited to give their opinions as well. The inquiry deals with a range of administrations : health, public works equipment, forestry and certain associations in defense of Nature and the environment. The DRIRE and the  commissionners in charge of the inquiry collect data and make a report. Public opinion constituting a collection of observations and arguments, may or may not be taken into account by the Prefect.

What are the different responses that a future quarryman might receive?

There are three answers. Either an argumented refusal for regulatory reasons (areas to be cleared around the quarry, zone of archaeological interest...). The refusal  may be due to evident lack of consideration for the disturbances that will eventually result from exploitation.

The second response is partial authorization to exploit, in other words the establishment of a authorized perimeter with regard to the surrounding environment. This partial authorization allows for a quarry to be exploited while fully preserving the protected zones.

Thirdly, the Prefect can authorize the exploitation under certain conditions such as the construction of a planted barrier, depth limitation, a cleaning devise for truck wheels, or a road deviation specific to quarry activity.

Does the future quarryman have other obligations to fulfill?

He must have property rights of the domain to be exploited, either through purchase or rental. He must provide a substantial financial guarantee for the duration of the quarry. The cost of machinery is important and certain machines are recommended by specific administrations (travelling crane...). Financially speaking, the investment is very considerable.

Substantial financial means are of primary importance to the opening and exploitation of a quarry.

The future quarryman must meet certain demands of the DRIRE. For example he must provide sufficient funds for the rehabilitation of the exploited sites. The amount of money allotted for rehabilitation increases at least over the first 5 years before arriving at stage one : when quarry restoration begins. Restoration takes place continuously as exploitation advances.