Profile of Greek marble quarries
Greek marble currently holds an established position in the world market, while several Greek quarries are internationally known by name. In Greece, the marble industry is on a path of steady growth. High-tech investments are implemented, new quarries are opening, and there is a large number of pending licenses for new mining projects.
But how familiar are we with Greek quarries and marble deposits in Greece? And what new has the new quarry in the Kavala area to offer to the existing inventory of Greek marbles?
History of marble quarries in Greece
Marble has been an important reference point for Greece, and marble quarries are part of a rich heritage.
The first historical references to marble extraction in Greece date back to the 3rd century BC and the islands of Paros and Naxos. Eventually, marble extraction in the two islands became intensive and gained a dominant position in the ancient world. Similar mining activities also emerged in other islands of the Aegean, including Anafi, Tinos and Thasos. Thasos in particular had been in antiquity – and remains today – a major mining hub of the Greek world.
In the 5th century B.C., another Greek marble rose to prominence: Pentelic marble. Its extraction yielded thousands of cubic meters, inspiring the creation of world-renowned monuments and masterpieces like the Parthenon and the Caryatids. Thanks to its sizeable deposits and exceptional quality, Pentelic marble has been consistently extracted since antiquity.
Greek marble deposits
Greece is believed to be the country that boasts the greatest variety of light and light-colored marbles. In addition to white and off-white marbles, several types of colored marbles are also extracted in the country, such as grey, green, black and red. Lab analyses have shown that Greek marbles have exceptional qualities, that allow them to meet even the highest construction standards.
Some types of white Greek marble are ranked among the best in the world. But there is also an additional element that increases their importance: Greece’s estimated marble deposits are huge. In fact, according to some experts, they are practically inexhaustible.
Active marble quarries in Greece
Many Greek quarries are now defunct. But relative to the country’s size, the number of quarries in operation is still remarkable. According to a report by www.oryktosploutos.gr, there are currently 210 active quarries in Greece. The figure below presents the geographical distribution of active quarries across the country.
Beyond the administrative region of Eastern Macedonia, which is the heartland of marble production, other Greek regions host the following number of active quarries:
- Western Macedonia: 14
- Central Macedonia: 12
- Epirus: 25
- Thessaly: 7
- Central Greece (Sterea Ellada): 27
- Peloponnese: 20
- Cyclades: 9
- Crete: 2
- Rest of the country: 3.
The heartland of marble production: Drama-Kavala-Thasos
It is clear from the figure above, that the heartland of marble production in Greece is the region of Eastern Macedonia.
Eastern Macedonia quarries account for 30,5% of the total area occupied by quarries across the country. The region has around 80 active quarries and 15 major marble-processing plants. It is estimated that quarries in the region extract more than 200.000 m3 of marble annually.
The major quarrying hubs in the region, and the corresponding, well-known marble types extracted in each, are:
- Thasos (Thassos Snow White, Thasos Crystallina, Prinos)
- Pyrgoi (Pirgon)
- Volakas (Volakas Haemus, Volakas Electron, Elba Blue, Venus Vox)
- Granitis-Ochiro (Mistral, Ariston, Ochiro, Delos)
- Nestos (Hemarus Grey)
- Pangaio, Stenopos, Makrychori, Limnia, Elafochori, Piges, Dysvato, Vathylakkos, Palaia Kavala, Nikisiani.
It is worth noting that Stone Group International and its business partners own 6 out of the 80 active quarries in the area, extracting white and off-white marble. Production at the quarries exceeds 250.000 tons annually.
Extracted marbles are cut and processed at the two industrial plants owned by Stone Group International and its business partners in the area, and at the state-of-the-art unit in the company’s main facilities in the nearby Thessaloniki prefecture.
Marbles processed in the company’s privately-owned plants are then shipped globally via the nearby port of Thessaloniki.