For most of us, a brick is usually moulded from clay, heated in a kiln, and used for construction of our houses, offices and more. Did you know, though, that in a small African village, bricks are quarried out of the hillside?
It’s true! In South-western Burkina Faso in Africa lies the small village of Karaba, with a hill made of laterite, a reddish-coloured rock rich in iron and aluminium. The quarrymen cut laterites out of the hill and into regular-sized blocks, easily done when they are wet and thus soft. Once dry, the bricks harden as the moisture between the flat clay particles evaporates and a rigid lattice structure is formed by the locking of the larger iron salts. This particular quarry is said to have been operational for nearly 30 years, with workers using only picks and shovels. Each worker sells his own bricks and earns a profit accordingly.
The practice of quarrying laterite into masonry work is said to have originated in Indian subcontinent. In recent times, it has found use in road laying (as an alternative to stone), due to its porous qualities.