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Polished performance

Granite and marble mining company Gramazini, relies on a fleet of 25 Volvo machines to help polish performance at its rock deposits in Brazil.

The Volvo L350F wheel loader is used to extract the ornamental rock and place it on the truck.

In a country of continental dimensions, Brazil has a large amount of natural resources. Among the most important are ornamental rocks, particularly marble and granite, which can be found in several regions but is concentrated in the state of Espírito Santo, an area covering about 40,000 square kilometers.

The state accounts for 80% of Brazil’s ornamental rock exports, producing close to two million tonnes of marble and granite every year. And rock mining company Gramazini is one of the country’s biggest contributors, evolving from a humble wood storage company two decades ago to today being one of the largest mining companies in Brazil.

In the company’s early days the rocks were cut ‘by hand’ and the person who found the right vein was called ‘pixote’. Today, the company employs over 400 people in ornamental stone quarrying and serves as a major contributor to Brazil’s expanding market. Every month, the company exports 200 containers of up to 22 tons each, each containing granite plates and an additional 200 containers with up to 34 tons of granite blocks, through the Port of Vitória. To maintain productivity and export rates, Gramazini relies on a fleet of 25 Volvo CE machines, including 13 excavators and 12 wheel loaders, including the largest L350F – the first of its kind to be used by an ornamental rock mining company in Brazil.

When Gramazini took delivery of two Volvo L350F wheel loaders in 2012, company owner João Antonio Thomazini quickly noticed the positive impact on production, prompting him to order two additional wheel loaders. Before the L350F, loading 30 trucks daily required three machines, a crane and eight employees to operate the steel cable. Today, the work is achieved by a single wheel loader, operated by one operator who can quickly and efficiently extract the granite block and place it on the truck.

Fortunately for Thomazini and his business, the experience was one that he had come to expect after purchasing two L120 wheel loaders in 1998 from Volvo CE dealer Tracbel. “My life changed from that moment on,” he adds. At the time, Thomazini had quarrying operations extracting several kinds of granite including Castelo Grey, Itabira Ochre, Corumbá Grey, and Capri Yellow. “I had a very good result. The machines produced more at a lower cost.”

By 2011, Thomazini had eight L120 wheel loaders and four EC 240 excavators. “Eighty percent of my new fleet at the quarries is Volvo,” he adds. The expansion was prompted by his discovery of more exotic rock deposits – rarer and more valuable in the international markets. To meet growing demand, Thomazini purchased two L350F wheel loaders the following year to increase extraction of blocks from high-production deposits. “In terms of time, safety, speed and productivity, the L350F is the best machine for carrying large granite blocks singlehandedly,” says Thomazini.

“We looked for the right machine, which needed to be suitable for that kind of operation, fit to cater to the company’s needs and ensure that the product would be properly extracted, undamaged,” explains Luciano Afonso Bissoli, Tracbel’s sales consultant.

The Volvo L350F is designed to withstand tough operating conditions, such as face loading freshly blasted rock; making it the ideal machine for Gramazini’s quarrying operations. All components, including engine, transmission, axles, frame and lifting arm mechanism, feature a robust design that makes them last longer, keeping the company’s uptime high.

The Volvo wheel loader works on-site, delivering the perfect combination of power and balance to carry more materials quickly.

In addition to the four L350F wheel loaders, there are eight L120 wheel loaders, four EC240 excavators and nine new excavators used in Gramazini’s quarrying operations. The volume of ornamental rock exported through Port Vitória is a major contribution to Brazil’s market expansion.

“If it is up to our company, the sector will go on growing,” states Thomazini, now aided by his son John, who is responsible for Gramazini’s exports division. Next year, the company will start operating its diamond thread manufacturing plant, in Cachoeiro do Itapemirim, a product used in granite-sawing machines. With the help of Volvo CE machines, more success is on the horizon.

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