A unique project is under way to unearth slate and ship it from the only operational slate quarry in Canada to uk builders.
Stone workers have been given the go-ahead by the Canadian government to extend their slate quarry, 240km north-east of Quebec, by a 2km-long strip. They will use dynamite and diggers to a depth of 100m.
At present, the quarry produces 30 million tonnes a day from a 30m-deep mineral bowl. Millions of tonnes more will see daylight for the first time in 300 million years after the deciduous trees have been cleared and ground dug, said the quarry owner Dany Dumont.
Dumont has been shipping around 1200 tonnes of hand-cut slates to the uk since 1995 and is looking to become a big player in the uk market, estimated to account for 70,000 tonnes a year.
David Burroughs of Blunn Slates, a uk distributor of the Canadian slate, said: 'One of the problems architects find with imported slate is they do not know what quarry it is from or its quality. Some companies import Spanish slate from around 12 different quarries. But this is the only operational quarry in Canada and there is only one quality we deal with for roofs.'
He added that a Glendyne slate, costing around £1.25, compared with 55p for a good Spanish slate and £2 for a Welsh slate. Welsh slate was the best in the world, he said. Glendyne wanted to tap into the quality market above the cheaper, less durable, end of the slate trade.