LQS – The underground quarry on the Loch shores

LQS – The underground quarry on the Loch shores


Article extracted from the “SOCIETY OF GLASS TECHNOLOGY ANNUAL CONFERENCE“, conference organized by the University of Cambridge in which Diego Zurolo, General Manager and CEO of Lochaline Quartz Sand Limited – owned by Minerali Industriali Srl, presents the company, products, processes and sustainable activity.




Lochaline Quartz Sand Ltd. (LQS) was born as a joint venture between the Italian mining company Minerali Industriali and the global glass producer NSG.

The company owns and operates the underground silica sand quarry in Lochaline, located in the western Highlands of Scotland.

More info at: www.lochalinequartzsand.co.uk



LQS produces silica sand of exceptional quality: very low in iron and very white, a material particularly suitable for the production of energy efficient glass.

Two types of silica sand are offered: LQS85 and LQS500. Both available in all formats: moist and loose, dried and bagged, available in stock in warehouses in the north of England.

LQS85 has a very low iron content and a particularly white color, unique among the United Kingdom’s sand sources. It is particularly suitable for the production of high quality glass and is also appreciated for other uses where a constant white color and a low iron content are required.

LQS500 is similar in appearance to LQS85, but gray in color and its iron content is controlled at a slightly higher level. It is a high purity silica sand suitable for the production of clear glass and  for customers who require clear silica sand but for whom the iron content is not critical.



Although the Lochaline mine has been in operation since 1940, the underground deposit is widely available and will provide high quality raw materials for several decades to come. The underground method of cultivation with rooms and pillars is used, abatement with explosives.

The sandstone front is drilled and loaded with explosives and blasted. Subsequently, the demolished material is loaded onto a dumper and transported to the neighboring treatment plant where it is crushed, washed, wet screened and treated with gravimetric spirals to further reduce the iron content.

Most of the sand is transported by ship from the adjacent dedicated dock. A drainage and pumping system and fully covered modern sheds reduce the final moisture of the sand.

There is a fully equipped laboratory on site. During production periods the samples are analyzed daily to determine and check the iron level and grain size. The moisture content is measured before and during loading to ensure that the product has the moisture described in the technical specifications before shipping. According to customer needs, the shipping takes place by land or sea directly from Lochaline.



Lochaline Quartz Sand Ltd. firmly believes that the only way to be economically sustainable is to operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. All over the world, the extraction of silica sand is carried out almost exclusively from surface quarries with a significant effect on the surrounding environment. Lochaline is a hidden underground quarry on the shores of Loch Aline and has no impact on the adjacent landscape.

LQS proudly supports its manufacturing processes, which are regularly reviewed. No chemicals are used to remove impurities. Only water, screens and gravity are used to produce an exceptional product. The water comes from underground reservoirs and is recycled using a closed circuit system.


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