A career in quarry management offers good opportunities for professional development and is ideal if you enjoy working outdoors and have a sensible approach to safety

Quarry managers are responsible for ensuring that quarries, pits and opencast sites operate successfully. They oversee all operations, both on site and in the office, manage staff, coordinate production and monitor all site systems.

Quarries produce a range of materials for use in industry and construction. These include:

  • brick and ball clay
  • china clay
  • coal
  • other minerals and materials
  • rocks and stone of all types
  • sand and gravel
  • slate.

Many quarries have ancillary plants producing asphalt, ready-mixed concrete and concrete products, while others have industrial plants producing cement, lime, bricks and tiles, glass and refractory sands and specialised products.

Responsibilities

As a quarry manager, you'll need to:

  • combine your knowledge of extraction and processing systems with excellent interpersonal and management skills to ensure the profitability of quarry sites
  • check that the quarry's production levels are maintained safely to schedule
  • balance sales and output
  • alter the quarry's production system in accordance with the materials required
  • liaise with sales and commercial teams
  • performance manage the production process and set and monitor targets
  • provide the owner company with information and statistics on the quarry's performance
  • develop links with local groups and organisations
  • manage and regulate the quarry's budget
  • maintain up-to-date records and deal with paperwork
  • ensure that key government health and safety legislation (Quarries Regulations 1999 and Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Quarries) Regulations 2008) is implemented throughout the site
  • keep up to date with relevant government legislation and industry developments
  • develop inspection systems and checklists
  • write development proposals and reports
  • manage and recruit staff.

On site, you'll need to:

  • closely monitor all areas of the quarry to ensure that extraction and processing work is carried out to the highest standard
  • provide active leadership and management of safety processes and culture to minimise risk in all operations activities
  • liaise with staff on site and deal with any technical or staffing challenges that arise
  • undertake regular site inspections and risk assessments in order to comply with all health and safety regulations
  • examine the materials produced to ensure that a high quality of product is maintained
  • assess equipment and production material levels
  • order new items as required
  • check that all vehicles on site are maintained to a good standard.

Salary

  • Salaries for assistant quarry managers typically range from £23,000 to £34,000.
  • Quarry managers can earn between £30,000 and £50,000.
  • With several years' experience, you can progress to unit manager (several quarries or a very large operation) with a salary in excess of £50,000 and even reaching over £100,000 for some very senior roles.

Larger employers may provide additional benefits, such as private health insurance and profit-related bonus schemes.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

The industry as a whole tends to work long hours, so the working day often exceeds the average 9am to 5pm office hours. The role may include responsibility for being on call in times of emergency or crisis.

What to expect

  • The role combines work in the office with on-site work.
  • Due to the nature of the work, self-employment is not an option.
  • Jobs are available throughout the UK in a variety of suburban and rural environments.
  • Geographic mobility is useful at the start of a career in quarry management, as you are likely to move between quarries before gaining an operations-level role.
  • There are some opportunities to work overseas.

Qualifications

Entry into quarry management is usually via a degree, HND or foundation degree in a relevant subject such as:

  • chemistry/industrial chemistry
  • earth sciences
  • environmental sciences/engineering
  • geology/mining geology
  • geophysics
  • materials science
  • minerals engineering/surveying
  • mining engineering/technology
  • physics.

A suite of qualifications has been developed, in partnership with the University of Derby, by the Institute of Quarrying (IQ). These qualifications are aimed at those working in quarry management:

  • Diploma in Mineral Extractives Studies - UK/EU or International
  • Foundation Degree in Mineral Extractives Technology - UK/EU or International
  • BSc Minerals Management.

See the IQ website for a list of relevant short courses and qualifications, in a mixture of technical and administrative topics, including skills in management and leadership.

Entry without a degree is possible for those with experience and relevant safety, health and environmental (SHE) qualifications.

Postgraduate study is not essential, although an MSc in a subject relating to quarrying may help career development.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • a strong level of technical understanding of quarrying environments and extraction systems
  • excellent communication and influencing skills
  • strong customer service skills
  • good business and management skills
  • project management skills
  • leadership qualities and team building skills
  • the ability to think strategically and to problem solve
  • the capacity to make quick decisions and to think on your feet
  • commercial awareness
  • good IT skills
  • knowledge of health and safety issues and how they relate to practical working environments
  • a flexible approach to work
  • an ability to tolerate (some of the time) noisy, dirty and uncomfortable working environments.

Work experience

Try to arrange a visit to a quarry site. Some of the larger companies provide work experience opportunities and one-year industrial placements. This type of experience can provide you with useful contacts and evidence of commitment to the industry.

Employers

There are more than 2,000 quarries and associated manufacturing sites in the UK. Typical employers include the major aggregate companies that extract and produce materials for construction and industry, as well as smaller operations.

The nature of employing companies varies from specialist-private companies to international groups. The larger groups are made up of a range of specialist companies, so it is worth getting to know them and the details of their specific quarrying functions.

To find details of quarries and operating companies in the UK see the Directory of Mines and Quarries. The range of functions within such companies, and other employers in the quarrying sector, means that there is a variety of opportunities in what is a strong industry, with well-established career routes.

Look for job vacancies at:

Vacancies for permanent jobs and details of graduate training schemes are also advertised on company websites.

Specialist recruitment agencies also advertise vacancies. See:

Professional development

Some large companies provide graduate-management training schemes. Trainees rotate around a range of functions in order to gain an overview of the entire group or company before deciding on which function to work in on a permanent basis (usually after a year).

As a trainee, it's likely you will get involved in a major strategic project based on a current business issue and also undergo training in areas such as the workings of a big business, leadership and teambuilding, and multi-media presentation.

You can undertake a range of specialist training, such as managing quarry drilling and blasting, managing quarrying environmental aspects and managing quarry health and safety. For further details, see the qualifying body, the Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC), which is a specialist training organisation for the extractive and mineral processing industries.

Although some companies offer opportunities to go on training courses, you will be responsible for identifying and following up your own training needs, which will form part of your continuing professional development (CPD). As well as qualifications, this should also include industry networking and membership of appropriate professional bodies such as the:

Career prospects

The type of quarry you decide to specialise in may have some impact on the progress of your career. Hard rock quarrying requires specialist skills and knowledge in areas such as blast design and shot firing, while quarries in which sand and gravel are extracted will require different types of skills.

Geographic mobility can affect career progression as you will probably need to move from one quarry to another in order to increase your level of responsibility and experience. Larger companies may provide more scope for developing your career without the need to move around.

Becoming a Member (MIQ) or Fellow (FIQ) of a professional body, such as the IQ, enables you to be listed as a qualified professional and provides opportunities to network and keep up to date with sector developments. Gaining additional qualifications in areas such as management and government legislation is also a good way to develop your career in quarry management.

With a number of years' experience and expertise, you can move on to working in an area operations management role. Working for a major, or even international, group of companies can provide a variety of career opportunities and the chance to diversify into other areas of the industry.