March 23, 2023
Local News | The Times

Local News

U.S. Silica facility in Utica to go idle

Move affects 25 to 30 jobs

A U.S. Silica mining facility in Utica will go idle this weekend, affecting between 25 to 30 jobs, according to a spokesman from the company.

Oil well fracking companies are buying sand closer to their sites to reduce transportation costs, such as freight, said Mike Lawson, of U.S. Silica. He noted one site in Texas cut its costs in half by buying sand closer.

Lawson was uncertain how the idling of the facility would affect employees, because they are on strike. Typically, when shifts are reduced, the company will move the employees to a nearby site, such as the one in Ottawa.

Lawson said the decision to idle the facility had nothing to do with the employees' strike, noting U.S. Silica also closed a facility in Texas. The Operating Engineers Local 150 has been on strike since May.

The facility produces about 1.5 million tons of sand per year. Lawson said the market could change, making the facility once again viable.

According to the company's website, the mine and processing plant in Utica uses natural gas and electricity to produce whole grain silica products through surface mining. The reserves are part of the St. Peter Sandstone Formation that was formed in the Illinois Basin some 450 million years ago.