The supply of marble in the historic quarries of Massa Carrara is close to being exhausted. The quarries in north-east Tuscany have provided some of the most highly-prized white marble for sculpting for hundreds of years.
La Henraux, a French quarrying company which for almost 200 years has worked marble in this area, has now asked for permission to extract marble from the top of Monte Altissimo the mountain from which Michelangelo took the stone for some of his most famous works, such as the Pieta. This request has sparked sharp divisions between supporters of the Parco archeologico delle Alpi Apuane, in which the quarries lie, and the unions that are anxious to protect the jobs of the 147 employees of the company. Supporters of the park argue that the remaining marble should be reserved for work in Italy, and not exported in large blocks around the world.