Cardinal’s Sand Plant Takes Flight
Testing is performed by Dave Scorgie, the plant’s quality control technician. “We take a sample of sand from different places in the process,” Scorgie says. “We take 10 grams of sand, grind it up, and put it under 30 tons of pressure to make it into a pellet. We call it a cookie. Then we put it in the X-ray fluorescence instrument. It’s calibrated for us to use for our sand; it tells us the chemistry we’re looking for.”
The sand then goes through a machine resembling a microwave oven. The machine has a tomb that generates increased air pressure. It takes about 15 minutes to perform its test. “If you’ve got one little particle of sand that’s got some iron stuck on it, the test will come out bad,” Van Der Wal says. “That’s all it takes, one little particle. It drives you nuts just trying to keep up with it.”
The sand plant currently has 12 employees and runs only one shift, but once the production of sand for the glass factory is running smoothly, the company plans to start producing fractionated sand and foundry sand. “We’ll probably run two shifts here when we start doing frac sand, because we won’t be able to keep up with it,” Van Der Wal says. “Right now, Cardinal is just using 140,000 tons a year. Working five days a week, 10 hours a day, we can make, probably, 240,000 tons. But to make it pay good, we need to get up around 300,000 to 400,000. The only way you can do that is to run two shifts.”
In the meantime, the company will continue to do what it was set up to do – produce fine, white, silica sand for the Cardinal glass factory in Durant. “The other stuff that we would do, like the foundry sand and frac sand, is just an extra deal to help pay for the cost of the plant,” Van Der Wal says.