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Washing plant drives revenue for producer

By |  September 12, 2016

Matthew Sand & Gravel, based in Johnston County, N.C., moves around often because of the smaller mining property sizes and deposit levels in the county. The sand-and-gravel producer has moved to three different sites in the county since its launch in 2001.

Business boomed for this small operator at its first site by 2004, and production levels continued to rise for the company as it completed mining operations at that location. However, Matthew Sand & Gravel experienced a bit of a downturn in 2012 not long after it moved to its second site nearby in Johnston County.

Tony Gandy, plant manager, attributes the decline in production to a faulty wash plant used at the site. On an average day at the operation, Gandy could never be sure whether his wash plant would yield enough sand to meet customer demand by the end of the workday.

“At the end of most days, we would only have a knee-high pile of sand,” Gandy says. “We had to work about three extra shifts a week to get enough sand.”

Matthew Sand & Gravel experienced a number of problems as a result of the wash plant, including lost fines to the pond, increased pond maintenance and a wet product that required extra time to dry. Operations slowed down in that time, requiring Gandy to look for another washing solution.

In 2014, he attended a CDE Global demonstration event at GS Materials in Candor, N.C., to learn more about the company’s 300-tph turnkey wash plant. The CDE Global wash plant allows for the feeding, screening, sand washing and stockpiling of materials on a compact chassis. By the end of the demonstration, Gandy found a possible washing solution to his problems in CDE Global’s M3500 plant.

“I was impressed with the plant,” Gandy says. “The biggest feature I liked was the amount of fine sand it saved.”

Tripling output

Photo courtesy of CDE Global

Matthew Sand & Gravel also experienced fuel savings by switching to an all-electric wash plant. Photos courtesy of CDE Global

Matthew Sand & Gravel finished production at its second sand-and-gravel operation by mid-2015 and began to reclaim the site. As the operation moved equipment to another new site, the company put its old wash plant to rest and integrated the M3500.

Operations at the company’s third site began in August 2015. Since integrating the M3500, Matthew Sand & Gravel has produced cleaner and dryer sand.

The M3500 produces four products according to CDE Global – oversize, 1/4-in. stone, concrete sand and residual fine sand. Matthew Sand & Gravel now produces more stone than before, as well as a new product – residual fine sand – that was not possible to make with the old wash plant. The company’s concrete sand also meets a more desired specification owing to the new wash plant.

In addition to producing better end products, Gandy says production levels have nearly tripled compared to what the company was achieving one year ago at its previous site.

“We run off the same off-road trucks,” he says. “Nothing but the wash plant has changed at our operation. Our old wash plant went through 1,000 tons of raw material per day, but this new one does 3,000 tons of raw material per day.”

With a smoother running plant, Gandy also notices savings in labor costs. At the company’s old site, employees worked 75 hours a week at times. At the new site with the improved washing plant, employees work 45 hours a week at the most, Gandy says.

“We’ve scaled some workloads down and the washing plant still works the same,” he says. “We haven’t worked on a Saturday or Sunday in months, whereas before we used to. This has freed up so much time for maintenance.”

And maintenance has also been simpler on the M3500 compared with the company’s old wash plant, Gandy says. With the old plant, Matthew Sand & Gravel discharged the water three times a week. With the new plant, the operation discharges water about once a month, showing Gandy that the plant captures more fine sand.

Although the wash plant was a big investment for Matthew Sand & Gravel, Gandy is confident the machine will pay for itself in time. The M3500 isn’t portable, but the plant breaks down into smaller pieces for transport if the company decides to use it at a different location.

Saving on diesel

When Matthew Sand & Gravel ran its old wash plant at its previous site, diesel fuel was a big cost. With the M3500, diesel is no longer an expense because the plant runs on electricity.

In the past year, Gandy has experienced savings in fuel. He estimates the company saves between $10,000 and $15,000 each month on diesel.

“The CDE equipment was able to move Matthew Sand & Gravel to a complete electric system, which reduced their monthly energy costs by about 75 percent,” says Tiff McMullan, business development executive at CDE Global. “We were able to recover the fine sand previously lost to the ponds and produce an additional fine sand product for the company.”

McMullan adds that the EvoWash sand-washing plant integrated into the M3500 also allows material to dry faster, making it ready for sale quicker.

Although the electric bill is higher than before, Gandy says the savings in diesel make the new expense worth the endeavor. The electric motor is also less likely to break down than the old diesel motor, he says.

“Before, we had five diesel motors on our washing plant to make sand,” he says. “If one broke, it caused problems. Now, it’s just one motor and switch.”

Matthew Sand & Gravel has encountered a couple of minor electrical issues with the washing plant, but the company has also developed a good relationship with CDE Global. Now, anytime a problem emerges, Gandy contacts McMullan, who is also based in North Carolina, to find someone at CDE Global to resolve the problems.

“They haven’t left me hanging yet on an issue,” Gandy says.

Gandy adds that the company’s current site likely has 12 to 14 more years of reserves left.

“We’re selling more sand here than we’ve ever sold in our history,” Gandy says. “Obviously without this plant, we couldn’t keep up.”

About the Author:

Megan Smalley is the associate editor of Pit & Quarry. Contact her at msmalley@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7930.

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