The Fox Marble factory, with the company name emblazoned in 7m high black lettering on the yellow walls, stands prominently on a hillside slightly above the surrounding farmland in the village of Magurë, Lipjan, some 10km SW of the capital of Kosovo, Prishtina and 5km from Pristina International Airport. This location was chosen for its excellent road and rail connectivity to all the company quarry sites in Kosovo and Macedonia, to the wider Balkan region and beyond.
The factory is just a few km from the new motorway which connects Kosovo and Albania and enables easy road access to Fox Marble's main export port, Durrës. It is also close to a second international motorway which is currently under contruction. When completed this will open fast road access to the company's second main export port, Thessaloniki in Greece and, once the N-S motorway through Serbia is also completed, the rest of Europe.
It is also close to the main north south railway through Kosovo. This is receiving substantial international investment and will eventually give Fox Marble a modern rail freight link, via Skopje in Macedonia, to both Thessaloniki and the rest of Europe.
Between the end of 2016 and late summer 2017 the company was able to transfer its entire slab production from Carrara, Italy, to Kosovo as the various stone processing units in the factory were commissioned under the watchful eye of an expert Italian factory manager.
Two Italian 80 blade gang saws were the first processing unit to become operational. These cut stone blocks into slabs in thicknesses from 1cm upwards. The slabs then need to be finished. Some of Fox Marble's stone (mainly the Alexandrian, which is brought to Kosovo for processing from the quarry in Macedonia ) can be sent straight from the gang saws to the polishing line but the rest usually requires an intermediate stage - resining. The resin line, again Italian, where epoxy resin is applied to individual slabs to fill any natural imperfections and then cured in giant ovens, became operational during summer 2017. The final stage of slab processing is polishing. Fox Marble's 19 head Italian polishing line was commissioned in parallel with the resin line. From September 2017 it has been producing polished and honed (smooth but matt) slabs at up to 7m a minute.
The gang saws and the polishing line use large amounts of water for lubrication. This is provided in a closed reticulation system topped up from a borehole. The lubrication water picks up stone particles as it is used and so has to be constantly cleaned. This takes place in water filtration plant outside the SW corner of the factory. Built to an Italian design, much of this was fabricated locally. In addition to producing clean water, the plant, with its Italian built filter press, produces a compressed marble sludge. The company is currently examining options for utilising or selling this bi-product.
Two further processing units were added in March/April 2018. The first of these was a block resining facility. Some blocks need to be strengthened on the outside before they go to the gang saws in order to ensure an even cut. This is achieved by vacuum sealing resin and fibreglass onto the surface of a block. The block resining facility was designed and built locally.
The second was the company's first cut to size processing line. This is a state of the art Italian CNC bridge cutter capable of producing high volumes of stone tiles and larger polygonal shapes. It is the most sophisticated machine of its type in the Balkans (including Greece) and was already producing tiles for export to the UK and Italy in its first week of operation.
With the CNC bridge cutter now operational, Fox is able to satisfy three separate marble market segments - block, slab and cut to size. The block market is primarily in countries which have their own stone processing industries such as India, China and Turkey. Finished slab is the preferred product for Fox Marble's US customers whilst the European market more usually demands cut to size.
Whether it is block from the quarries or processed stone from the factory, Fox Marble is proud to realise its strategic corporate vision of delivering its exclusive high quality marble and marble-grade limestone to the world market at the most competitive prices possible.