THE MARBLE SECTOR FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
In a general sense, marble are stones that have come into existence with the crystallization and reformation after metamorphism of limestone (CaCO3) and dolomite limestone under (CaMg(CO3)2) heat and pressure. In the industrial sense, every kind of stone that can be cut, polished and has a trading value is called marble. Petrographically marble is solid, roughly the same size (according to the kind of metamorphism it has gone through) mosaic that has revived between the calcite crystals without leaving any space. Marble is a fairly hard stone that has been formed with the metamorphism of the limestone. This general metamorphism takes place very deep under the earth surface with the influence of intensive heat and pressure. The limestone that makes up the essence of the marble is composed of calcite crystals. Calcite is derived from the transformations in the stones with calcium and the sediments in the karstic areas. Marble comes into existence as a result of the pressing-together of these calcite crystals. It has a harder structure compared to limestone since the spaces between the crystals are eliminated under the pressure and heat.
How many kinds of marble are there?
The marble types that are generally known are classical marble, travertine, onyx and granite. Out of these, marble is composed of totally crystallized stones with metamorphism. They are usually white or light gray in color. They contain lots of unique materials in their composition. Onyx and travertine only contain CaCO3 in their structure. Travertines are easily embroidered because they have spaces varying from the size of the top of a needle to a couple of cm. and takes to polish well. Granite is a marble with magmatic origin. Other examples can be given to this type such as andesite, dacite, syenite, basalt, diabase, gabbro and serpentinite.
What is the current situation in Turkey and in the world in terms of natural stones and the marble sector?
Turkey, situated on the Alpine zone where the world's richest natural stone formations are, has very diverse and large amounts of marble reserves. Turkey, with addition to these reserves, has become one of the world's most important natural stone producers with its developing industry and the technology it uses in production. These important reserves have spread to a large region between Anatolia and Thrace. The cities where the reserves are more concentrated are Afyon, Bilecik, Balıkesir, Denizli, Muğla, Amasya, Elazığ and Diyarbakir.
Turkey's natural stone and marble production has grown tremendously in the last few years. Especially in the last period with the participation of the establishments doing integral production alongside the investments of the big firms, a great increase has been recorded in processed marble production. With the modern quarry production methods that are recently being applied and with the latest techniques, Turkey has become one of the seven big producer countries in the world natural stone production. In marble mining, where almost all of the production is being done by the private sector, the annual block production is approximately 3 million tons; and the total tablet production capacity of the processing establishments is around 13 million m2. Turkey, with an important place in terms of the world's marble reserves has a very high market opportunity with its variety of marble having about 400 different color and texture qualities.
The start of using natural stones as construction and decoration material has lead to an increase in the world natural stone production. The increase in the last ten years, in particular, is parallel to the earnings and the developments in processing technology. With the constantly improving processing techniques, the stones can now be more easily and economically processed and new areas of usage can be found.
With architects and decorators preferring the use of materials made of natural stone, this leads to an increase in the number of the consumers in the world. Alongside this, the considerable decline in market prices coupled with the increase in interest towards ecological and esthetic looking material are subsidiary factors affecting the rise in consumption. Experts predict that this improvement will continue over the coming years. In today's world, there are seven core natural stone producer countries, accounting for some 70% of the world's production .
What is Turkey's marble potential? (proven, probable and potential reserves)
In Turkey, there are crystalline solid limestone (marble), limestone, travertine, limestone made of travertine (onyx marble), conglomerate, breccia and stones with magmatic origin (granite, syenit, diabase, diorite, serpentinite, etc.) in different color and texture which can be utilized as marble. These generally consist of the marble types, which can be highly valued in the world markets with their high quality. The richness of Turkey in terms of marble can be explained with the existence of old crystalline solids in its geological structure. The known and processed major marble areas are the large areas in West Anatolia where main lithologic union consists of crystalline solid methomorphic schists, gneisses and marble. These are the marble areas around Izmir, Tire, Torbali, Selçuk in Menderes; crystalline solid, marble areas around Afyon, İncehisar, Eskişehir, Uşak and areas around Milas in the city of Muğla, Yatağan and Kavaklıdere.
Although marble has been used throughout history by different civilizations in the construction of monuments and magnificent buildings because of its durability and esthetic appearance, in our country today it is more frequently used in the construction sector for floor surfaces (36%), internal (14%) and external building coating (10%), in cemeteries (11%) and in the production of decorative objects.
It is estimated that 40% of the world's marble reserves are found in our country. The travertine, stones with magmatic origin and stones that are qualified to be used as marble are included to this marble reserve. The probable reserve amount is based more on Turkey's marble formations in its geology map studies . Our most important five cities in terms of their marble reserves are as follows:
Balıkesir: 1,850 Million m3 (35.8 %)
Denizli: 652 Million m3 (12.6 %)
Afyon: 629 Million m3 (12.2 %)
Tokat: 410 Million m3 (7.9 %)
Çanakkale: 252 Million m3 (4.9 %)
73.4% of the total reserves are found in these cities.
The enhancing of the current situation and the control of the product quality- The Constant Improvement Marble Model
In the marble sector, just like in all the other sectors, the most important objective is to provide the customer with a high-quality product, priced cheaply. For the marble sector in our country to reach a successful point, there is a need for a model that will control the quality of the product. We refer to this model as the ‘Constant Improvement Marble Model'. With its number 1 place in the world in terms of its reserves, and if Turkey can manage to overcome some of the basic problems that it encounters today and keep up with the technology, then it may reach the level where Italy is in the world. The goals set to reach this vision are to use the most developed technologies in both quarry management and marble machines industry and to bring down the costs to minimum levels, to overcome the current problems and move on in cooperation, to increase education and to be in harmony with the environment. People who contribute to the establishment of the model will become players. The players will be quarries, factories, workshops, existing organizations and customers. We can attempt to summarize the players in this constant model and their problems:
This is the first stage that affects the quality and quarry management and is perhaps the most important area where the cost may be reduced. Before everything else, the quarry must first be examined in detail for profitability, color and quality and then it should start operating. Otherwise losses will mount and the quarry will eventually be shut down. Countrywide, there are still more than 500 quarries in operation. It is known that there are around 55,000-60,000 people employed in the sector's quarries and factories. This figure is just 2,200 for boron mining. These numbers show how important the marble sector is in providing employment. It is estimated that the existing marble quarries operate with a 60-70 people capacity due to limited number of qualified workmen and machinery. Furthermore, the quarry operates under open establishment conditions as there are no qualified quarry workers that would work a full year, which is an impediment to the utilization of their full capacity.
The methods used in marble operations can be summarized as follows:
1. Primitive Methods:
a. Gutter-canal opening method
b. Opening a hole (trio-dagger)
c. Modern trio-dagger
d. Using an explosive
2. Mechanical Methods:
b. Diamond wire cutting method
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