People often use “concrete” and “cement” interchangeably, but did you know they’re completely different products?
Cement is a binder. It sets and hardens to bind other materials together and is the main ingredient in ready-mix concrete: a mixture of cement, aggregates, water and admixtures. Cement is made using a process called calcination—where limestone is heated with other materials to 1450 degrees Celsius, resulting in a hard substance called clinker. The clinker is then ground into a fine powder to make cement.
The rock that we mine is an essential part of daily life.
Aggregates (sand, gravel and stone) are the building blocks of modern civilization—from roadways and bridges, to neighborhoods, sidewalks and schools. They’re the foundation for our homes, hospitals, and the modern cities where we live and work.
But rock isn’t just used to construct our buildings, it’s also used inside them. Aggregates are found in tile, glass and plaster, as well as household products like cleansers and cosmetics.
Aggregates also have important environmental uses such as erosion control, sewage control and water-filtration systems. Our limestone is even used to remove sulfur dioxide in the air, which reduces air pollution.
Before limestone can be used for homes, hospitals, bridges and roads, the rock must first be small and loose enough to be removed and processed. This is where blasting comes in. Highly trained operators dig small, precise holes in the rock, which are then filled with blasting material. A highly-coordinated detonation follows, producing energy that travels through the rock and causes it to break, allowing for extraction.
Technological advances, including sophisticated electronics and micro-seismographs, have greatly increased control, limited vibrations and reduced the frequency of blasting.
No. In fact, many are surprised to learn that everyday activities, such as door slamming and hammering nails, can cause greater vibrations in a home than blasting at our facilities. Our limestone operations use the most advanced blasting technology available and careful monitoring with highly accurate seismic instruments demonstrates that blasting levels are well within limits.
Moreover, the state’s blasting limits are 62 percent stricter than the national level established by the U.S. Bureau of Mines.
No. Without blasting, modern construction would grind to a halt, consumer prices would soar, taxpayers would face much higher infrastructure costs and thousands of local jobs would be lost.
Furthermore, the Lake Belt Region in Miami-Dade County produces the highest quality limestone in the Sunshine State and provides over 50% of the limestone that Florida requires—all of which can only be extracted via blasting.
Without blasting, it would be virtually impossible to run modern limestone operations, dramatically increasing the cost of local building materials and raising prices on anyone who lives in a home, shops at a store or drives on a road. At the same time, it would severely disrupt South Florida’s economy, endanger over 10,000 local jobs, and jeopardize the Florida Department of Transportation’s most important supply of aggregate, used to build roads and bridges throughout the Sunshine State.
While the economic damage would be severe, the environmental consequences could be very serious as well. Local limestone operations serve as a buffer to development, protecting the Everglades and furnishing our region with a water storage system that offers plentiful, clean and low-cost water to millions of South Floridians
No. Our operations do not harm the aquifer, as extensive water quality data has demonstrated. Moreover, our operations are heavily regulated and regularly monitored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Miami-Dade County.
No. Vibrations are a normal part of blasting operations and are heavily regulated by the state government. The State Fire Marshal enforces blasting standards based on independent scientific studies to ensure all vibrations are within safe limits and independent seismologists verify the compliance.
Our industry has been operating in Miami-Dade for nearly half-a-century.
Controlled burns are necessary to access limestone reserves that are obstructed by standing trees and underbrush. Once all applicable permits are acquired, the vegetation is cleared, piled and subsequently burned. Wind direction and weather conditions are closely monitored before a controlled burn takes place.
When it comes to protecting the environment, we’re proud to be part of the solution. With concerns about protecting the Everglades from urban sprawl continuing to grow, regulators and environmentalists have recognized limestone operations as a natural buffer. Moreover, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District’s Everglades Restoration Plan includes Miami-Dade limestone quarries as a vital water storage area.
Since 1999, the limestone products industry has contributed over $126 million to protect, preserve and restore the Florida Everglades. It’s part of the historic Lake Belt Plan—developed by a group of civic, business and environmental leaders—which established a long-term approach to permitting that secures jobs, provides operating certainty, and protects the environment. To learn more about how our industry is helping to restore and safeguard the Everglades, click here.