Kilkenny limestone is being used on a seawall in a Belgian city in a contract worth over €300,000 to a local company.
The contract has been awarded to McKeon Stone, and the first load of limestone for the project left the company’s Threecastles quarry on Monday.
Niall Kavanagh, managing director of the company that has a factory in Stradbally, County Laois, explained that it will take approximately 100 loads of stone, or around 4,000 square metres, for the seawall defence in the city of Ostend in western Belgium to prevent flooding from the North Sea.
The contract is a reflection of the company’s longstanding ties with Belgium, which now represents almost half of the firm’s stone business. They have been exporting to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany for almost 20 years but the level of exports has increased from 5% to 75% in the past three years as the demand for stone in the Irish market has collapsed.
“We have been working in Belgium for many years, and Belgium would represent our biggest market for stone,” Mr Kavanagh said. “Nearly 50% of our production goes to Belgium, so they would be familiar with our work.”
McKeon Stone representatives visited the Belgian site early last week, with a return visit by a delegation from the city of Ostend, the Flemish government, the main contractor Depret and stone company Zagerij on Thursday to inspect the stone and sign the contract.
The company will now be sending out five or six loads per week, with the project due to be finished by the end of June to coincide with the tourist season in the Belgian city.