The El Puente gravel pit, one of Holcim Spains most renowned aggregate facilities from an environmental standpoint, is exceptional by any standard, as it is a model of sustainable growth. Located in the Toledo province south of Madrid, El Puente is also a benchmark in safety and social commitment.
The El Puente gravel pit evidences this commitment, with the restoration process starting in parallel to the mining activity. As the machines extract materials, new work teams are busy on other areas of the site, restoring it to the state it was in before the work began, and even beyond.
Before exploitation started in 1979, the land in and around El Puente was used for agricultural purposes, which means it counted with a basic level of biodiversity. When Holcim took over exploitation in the early 1990s, it worked with an independent biologist on restoration plans to be held in parallel with quarry exploitation. It was then decided to take advantage of the Jarama River running through the grounds to create and enhance wetland environments.
The team of professionals working in the gravel pit has also been key in making El Puente what it is today. The sum of each and every worker's professionalism and commitment has made it possible for our gravel pit to become one of the best examples of the Holcim way of working. We employ top industry experts in every facet of our operations, and all of them bear in mind the common goal of making this site a safe, profitable and environmentally friendly place to work.
The rehabilitated areas were transformed into a series of habitats with different flora and fauna. The restoration design included different water depths, islands, irregular banks, marshland vegetation, and partial recovery of riverside forests, ensuring natural links to the adjacent riverside and marshy vegetation. Attention was given to nesting areas, spaces for feeding, resting, refuge, and areas for monitoring the birds.
As a result, the rehabilitated areas now have greater environmental quality than before quarrying began, attracting species that were not there at the time when the land was occupied only by agricultural fields. The 180 hectares of land are now home to 200 different bird species, 72 of which are aquatic and four in danger of extinction. In a year, over half of Spains usual species can be spotted in the human-made lakes of El Puente, and about 4,300 birds pass through monthly, a record even by international standards.
The restoration effort has received numerous accolades from government and industry. In 2008 it was declared a zone of special protection for birds (ZEPA) by the Government of Castile-La Mancha, under the framework of the Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. It went on to receive the Special Biodiversity Award by the Spanish Aggregates Federation (FdA) in 2009 and the UEPG Sustainable Development Special Biodiversity Award in 2010. These awards have a direct positive impact on Holcims relations with its stakeholders, and consequently its future license to operate.
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