JO_lafargequarryA group of students from the Joliet Job Corps Center’s Cement Masonry class visited the Lafarge Quarry on March 9 for a tour that was part of the Groundhog Job Shadow program.

Upon arrival at the underground facility in Rockdale, Ill., the students watched a video that explained the best practices for safety in the quarry. The students were then driven to work site trailers, where they took a Mine Safety and Health Administration safety course to before entering.

The tour took the group 325 feet below the surface. They saw the areas where miners had drilled and set off explosives to remove large portions of stone and aggregate before grinding it into smaller pieces suitable for construction work. As the group proceeded through the quarry, they saw the crushing operation, which is the area where the extracted stone and aggregate is crushed to the appropriate size.

The group also noticed that the ceiling was being reinforced. Tools were used to drill holes into the ceiling, and long anchoring rods then were inserted and tightened. As the students approached the area that was 300 feet below the ground, the lights were extinguished so everyone could experience total darkness. No one could see anything — not even their hands in front of their faces.

Students had much to say about the trip afterward.