Cardinal’s Sand Plant Takes Flight
The wet plant began producing sand in July 2008 and the dry plant went online in September. “From August 2007 to now, we’ve changed that property from a cow pasture to a sand mine with a dredge operation, a wet plant, and a dry plant for drying the sand,” Van Der Wal says.
There are two ponds – one is for the dredge and the other supplies clean water to wash the material in the wet plant. From the dredge pond, sand and water is pumped up to the wet plant through a pipeline. It is then processed through a couple of cyclones and scrubbers. A dewatering screen helps to remove some of the water. Then, the sand is placed in a stockpile where it continues to drain for a couple of days. From there, it is loaded into hoppers that feed the sand onto a conveyor that, in turn, feeds it into the dryer, which is fueled by an 18,000-gallon propane tank.
Once the sand has gone through the dryer, it travels through a screen where the coarse sand particles are removed and placed in a separate pile. The remaining sand then proceeds to one of the plant’s two large silos for storage until it can be shipped to the glass plant.
When a truck arrives to pick up a load of sand, it proceeds to the scale house where it is weighed empty. The truck then drives beneath the silo’s loadout hopper to get its load of sand. An 11-foot downspout drops down from the loadout hopper to keep the sand from blowing around during the loading process. The truck moves forward slowly as it is being filled, which helps distribute the load and the weight evenly over the truck’s axles. A scale ensures that 27 tons of sand is loaded onto each truck. Then the truck returns to the scale house for its final weigh out and to receive a ticket. Each truck cycle takes about 20 minutes.
All new plants encounter challenges when they open, and FG Minerals is no exception. “One of the problems we’ve got here is that the sand is so hard you can’t dig it with the dredge,” Van Der Wal says. “Silica sand is so close together, and the sand has been in the ground for so many years, that it has cemented itself together. It’s hard, just like concrete. That’s why I’ve got an excavator to dig it out. The excavator gets out in front of the dredge, reaches out in the water, breaks the sand loose, and throws it back in the water so the dredge can pick it up.”
Finding experienced workers in the area has been a challenge, also. “The only guy I’ve got here who’s had any experience is the guy on the dredge,” Van Der Wal says. “The others have never done anything like this before, and they don’t understand it,” he adds. “I’m trying to teach them.”
Another challenge is maintaining the quality of the sand, which has to be impeccable. Constant testing is done to ensure the utmost quality. “The white sand is the better sand,” Van Der Wal says. The darker the sand is in color, the more iron there is imbedded in the sand particles.
“It’s critical that the sand meet composition and chemical specs that are set down by the glass industry,” Van Der Wal adds. “We have an X-ray machine so we can check the chemicals in the sand. If something gets off in the sand, it can cause imperfections in the glass. Then you have a lot of glass to break up, cull, and run back through at the factory. It’s very costly.”
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