La Baña, belonging to the local authority of Encinedo, and home to an estimated 600 inhabitants, is located southwest in the province of León, North Spain.
The mining development La Baña, S.A. known as "Fuidemalo", owes its name to the place where it is located, geologically belonging to Synclinal de Truchas, which exploits one of the most prestigious natural slates, also known as “Hebra”, destined for use in the ornamental slate sector.
Slate extracted from Fuidemalo, La Baña, stands out on the market for its high quality, hardness, the absence of iron pyrites and its elegant black colour subtly defined by the Hebra which our slate is characterised by.
Exploitation: The ultimate aim of the operation is the extraction of the uncut slate block, called "rachon", which are subsequently transported to the processing plant. This complex process has several stages:
First Stage: Consists in reaching high standard slate for the production of roofing tiles, by way of removing rubble during the process using mining methods of drilling and blasting for subsequent loading and transporting to dumps by means of backhoe loaders on dumper trucks.
Second Phase: Having selected quality slate suitable for roofing, we proceed to the preparation of the slate blocks for their subsequent cutting using a diamond tipped blade. Given the characteristics of the deposit, vertical and horizontal cuts are required.
Stage three: Next, the blocks are extracted by mechanical means, including a rigid blackhoe loader equipped with hydraulic pick hammer and a blackhoe loader with bucket, thus, coupling the blocks in the loading area.
It should be noted, in order to cause less damage to our product, thus optimizing performance, the blocks are transported to the processing plant, yet, in the quarry, La Baña, Fuidemalo, the first cut is conducted in the actual deposit.
Stage four: Once completed the mechanical extraction, the "blocks" are transported to the quarry processing plant in trucks equipped with interchangeable platforms where the production is then completed.
The objective of the processing plant is to transform the slate "blocks" extracted from the deposit into sheets of different dimensions according to market demands. Owing to the characteristics of the deposit, Fuidemalo, two layers of slate of different characteristics are mined, known commercially as "pizarra of hebra" and "pizarra seca", although the production process is similar.
The First phase in the processing plant, the slabs are unloaded from the trucks and taken to corresponding saws depending on the type of slate.
The Second phase, sawing: The blocks, already split, are transformed into slabs of the same dimension. This phase is performed by "L-shaped saws" made up of two cuts. One is executed lengthwise thus obtaining sheets of constant width, whereas the second is performed crosswise to the above, obtaining the blocks.
Third phase Prior selection of the blocks, followed by the splitting, maintaining the intrinsic characteristics of the slate named geologic foliation, leveraging schist forms thus, obtaining tectonic plates - sheets of slate. Currently, Pizarras La Baña has more than a dozen automatic splitting machines at their disposal in their two establishments, yet, also preserving traditional slate splitter posts for handcrafted work required by our "skilled splitting craftsmen".
Fourth phase consists in the cutting of slate based on market demand, as like the rest of the sector, Pizarras La Baña has been progressing in techniques from scissors and initially manual cutting machines or with pedals, going on to pneumatic scissors and cutting machines until reaching the current automatic disk cutters.
Fifth phase which also takes place in the production plant, requires personalized touch of the specialized team that this family business holds, referring to a specific and very delicate handmade selection, which is what defines the high quality of our product, hand selecting our slate one by one with great skill and expertise, specialised personnel determine the quality of each piece of slate which passes through their hands, classifying them into our three principal finishes which finally reach the international market, known as, "Elite", "Superior" and "Classique".
Once selected and classified, each slate is packed into pallets. We must point out that Pizarras La Baña, S.A. is one of the leading companies in the slate industry, always committed to the latest technologies, enabling not only the best business performance, but relieving the workload and physical effort of their employees, counting on its own R&D (Research and Development) Department, endeavouring to invest in the latest technological advances, which over the past years has lead to the acquisition of semi-automatic palletizing machines, for the purpose of better business performance and productivity, alleviating the physical work of its employees, without having to lay anybody off.
Ultimately, once selected, the slate is sorted and palletized, the different Pallets of slate are conveyed and stored in our Factory-Warehouse, in which all the finished “Stock” is stored for subsequent sales and commercialization on the international market.