In the beginning

Hard stone such as sandstone, granite and limestone has been used for centuries to construct monuments and buildings.The Roman Empire, for example, built its vast network of roads and aqueducts using aggregates, among other materials. These stones were often extracted from quarries far from the sites where they were used.

The boom: from the 19th century to today

The invention of cement and concrete in the 19th century greatly increased demand for aggregates. With the boom in the construction sector, the use of raw materials from stone is growing.

Large volumes of aggregates are still used today, with France alone using 1 million tons per day!

Operations have adapted to meet the needs of customers and a wide range of applications. Today, different forms of aggregates are available:

  • rock-based materials may occur naturally (e.g., sand, gravel) or result from crushing: these are referred to as "aggregates",
  • "recycled aggregates" created from materials recovered from buildings, road surfaces and a range of industries.

Crushing and grinding

Crushing is one phase in the aggregate production process. After scalping (removal of unwanted clay, etc.), the materials are crushed and ground (broken into smaller pieces).

Uses of aggregates

A variety of uses
The production of aggregates depends on their end use:

  • Without processing, aggregates are used for railway ballast, golf course sand traps, beaches and horse racing tracks.
  • When mixed with a binder, aggregates are used to create different building materials: with cement to produce concrete, with bitumen to produce asphalt for bridges, roads and playing fields.

History: Lafarge and aggregates

Lafarge's Aggregates Business experienced tremendous growth with the acquisition of:

  • Redland, one of the world's leading producers of aggregates and ready-mix concrete, in 1997,
  • Blue Circle in 2001.


Did you know?

One kilometer of railway requires 16,000 tons of aggregates, while 1 kilometer of highway takes 30,000 tons!

In France, 1 million tons of aggregates are used daily to build infrastructure such as roads, bridges, hospitals, housing, schools, etc.