BOSSES at a Bacup quarry have warned it must expand, or jobs will be lost.

Jim Laycock, who runs Tong Quarry, off Tong Lane, has applied to extend the 8.6 hectare site by almost four hectares.

He said the future of the operation had a knock-on effect for the entire East Lancashire construction industry.

Tong Quarry Ltd wants to extend the quarry to the north, and restore the excavation close to original ground levels by infilling with construction, demolition and excavation wastes.

The quarry has produced mineral products, including aggregate and fireclay since it opened, on land south of Tong Farm, in 1960.

In a planning statement, the firm said: “The quarry provides a local source of aggregates to the local construction industry, together with a means of disposing of construction and demolition wastes.

“The area served includes Burnley, Bacup, Blackburn, Rawtenstall, Bury and Rochdale, all within a 15-mile radius.

“Without the resource provided by Tong Quarry, the local construction industry would face higher costs arising from reduced competition, and increased travel distances.

“The continued operation at Tong Quarry will provide a more sustainable solution for the supply of aggregates and the management of construction and demolition wastes.”

If permitted by Lancashire County Council, the proposals would see mineral reserves increased to the equivalent of 915,000 tonnes of shale and 218,000 tonnes of fireclay.

The site would then be restored and returned to agricultural use by 2035.

The quarry employs eight people, but bosses said some would have to be let go if the site was not allowed to expand.

Tong Quarry Ltd said: “Although the proposed extension of the quarry will not provide any additional employment, it will safeguard the livelihoods of the existing workforce.

“If planning permission is not granted, employment in the quarry is likely to fall to two people from mid-2014 as the quarry begins to close down.”