PHOTOS, VIDEO: Take a virtual tour of Unimin’s underground operation in Guion, Ark.

Therese Dunphy

August 27, 2014


Unimin’s Guion Plant, located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, has an underground mine, a surface quarry, and a sand processing plant. The nearly 100-year-old operation was incorporated in 1917 by the Duncan family and run by several generations prior to its sale to Unimin in 1988.

A layer of limestone lies above a 150-foot thick deposit of sandstone, but existing competitors in the local market have led the company to focus on its sandstone products. While the sand had primarily been used by foundries for making steel castings, with the balance going to glass manufacturing, glass quickly outpaced foundry use. While some of those heritage accounts remain, its primary business is now the energy market. “We proved to ourselves that we could make hydraulic fracturing (frac) sand, so it was a natural thing to shift to that side of the business to replace the volume we lost,” Plant Manager Mike Maloney tells Aggregates Manager.  “Now we ship more sand to the energy sector than anywhere else.”

The mine has more than 100 employees. The plant runs 24/7, while the mine operates 12 hours per day. All miners, operators, maintenance, and some staff work the same 12-hour shift schedule with rotating days off.

In addition to its interesting underground operation, the Guion Plant has an impressive safety record. Learn more about how it received a Safety Achievement award from the Industrial Minerals Association-North America and the Mine Safety and Health Administration here.

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