Unimin Corporation Sustainability Report

Welcome to our second sustainability report, "Value Beyond Minerals." Sustainable development continues to be a guiding principle at Unimin, and one that we have integrated into our business practices and daily operations. We are always mindful of our environmental, social and economic impacts, and regularly engage our internal and external stakeholders to ensure we are operating responsibly and sustainably in the communities in which we operate.

Global Reporting Initiative
  • Dear Valued Stakeholders,

    I'm proud to share with you our Company's accomplishments since publishing our first report, "Value Beyond Minerals." Unimin remains committed to transparency and sustainability, and serving as good neighbors to our operating communities. As we raise the bar on our sustainability performance, Unimin gains efficiencies, competitive advantages and the ongoing trust of our stakeholders.

    Enduring community partnerships continue to play an integral role in shaping our business decisions. Unimin's successful greenfield development project in Tunnel City, Wisconsin reflects the emphasis we place on community outreach and stakeholder engagement. Critical milestones that included accelerated prospecting, planning and permitting programs were achieved in large part to the constructive dialogue that exists between our Company, our employees and our stakeholders.

    A signature strength of Unimin is our safety culture. Health, safety and personal sustainability are top priorities at Unimin and we are proud to be recognized with numerous national and regional awards citing our safe operating practices and preventative programs. We are acutely aware of the importance of safety vigilance and the need for frequent and repetitive safety training invested at all levels of our organization.

    Continuous improvement and innovation will continue to define Unimin as we strive for operational excellence. As a privately held company Unimin is afforded a longer term approach to business and our relationship with our many stakeholders. With this important advantage, and the financial flexibility to continuously reinvest in plants, processes and people, our objective is to be a valuable and sustainable partner by our customers, shareholders, employees and communities.

    Finally, I am excited to announce the establishment of our 2015 sustainability goals; developed through a high-level assessment of Unimin's most material issues. The assessment involved evaluating our most significant impacts and setting targets related to our local communities, employees, safety and health, water, energy, emissions, effluents and waste, economic impact, and innovation. We look forward to reporting our progress in these key areas in the coming years.

    Looking ahead, Unimin will continue delivering "Value Beyond Minerals" by investing in our people, our communities, and in the growth and innovation of our diverse businesses. By operating sustainably every day, we will effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our customers while sustaining our future for many years to come.

    Sincerely,
    Luke Anderson

  • Report Parameters

    This is Unimin's second sustainability report providing data and stories from 2011 through 2013. Report content represents all wholly owned mining operations and related facilities managed by Unimin Corporation including Unimin Specialty Minerals Inc. and Southern Lime in the United States, Grupo Materias Primas in Mexico and Unimin Canada. All of these entities report to our corporate headquarters in New Canaan, Connecticut.

    This report is prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3.1 guidelines and the Mining and Metals Sector Supplement. It is a GRI-Checked Application Level C report, and GRI has verified that the report is completed in accordance with Application Level C.

    GRI Application Level Check

  • Organization Profile/Governance

    Unimin's operations are managed by the Executive Management Group (EMG) consisting of executive officers who are responsible for defining the strategy and goals for the organization. The EMG reports to the Unimin CEO, who reports to the Sibelco Group CEO and the Sibelco Group Executive Committee, which in turn report to the SCR­-Sibelco Group Board of Directors, the highest leadership body for Unimin's operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

    Highlight Story Our Vision

    Unimin's "Vision Document" communicates the basic elements of our management philosophy, our approach to managing our business and our commitment to our stakeholders. The Document provides the framework and processes to look beyond daily business challenges and develop longer-term and systematic solutions to achieve our ultimate goal of Operational Excellence. Five guiding principles focus our efforts and serve as benchmarks against which we measure our progress:

    • A Safe and Healthy Workplace
    • Long-Term Access to High Quality Mineral Reserves
    • Industry Leading Operations and Technology
    • People Performing at Their Best
    • The Customer at the Center of Everything We Do
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Materiality

    During 2012 and 2013 we saw an improved coordination of the Company's vision document and sustainability initiatives. Central to this effort was an expanded materiality exercise conducted with Unimin's Senior Management Team and their direct reports. The exercise identified internal and external stakeholder priorities, validated our most important areas of focus and established aspirational goals in those areas.

    A cross-functional sustainability team is focusing its energies in three key areas:

    • Cascade our sustainability message throughout the organization.
    • Document independent sustainability initiatives to multiply best practices.
    • Improve our internal sustainability reporting mechanisms.

    In the coming year we will establish a baseline of quantitative and qualitative data that will help improve our processes for a sustainable future.

    Highlight Story Bold Goals

    Community

    • We will be the leading corporate citizen in the communities in which we work.

    Employee Relations

    • We will champion ‘personal sustainability' through employee safety, wellness and enrichment programs.

    Occupational Health & Safety

    • We will be the safety and health leader in our industry.
       

    Resource Management

    • We will optimize our natural resource utilization to ensure sustainable performance for our stakeholders.

    Environmental Responsibility

    • We will proactively manage our environmental impact to advance our sustainable growth.

    Economic Performance

    • We will sustain our economic growth and the prosperity of our stakeholders through continuous improvement and innovation.
  • We pride ourselves on being a well-run and efficient organization. Central to that success is a process-oriented, continuous improvement culture that aligns our core values with our operating environment. A safe and productive work environment is one of those core values, achieved through programs that encourage and reinforce best practices for the health and safety of our employees and contractors.

    Highlight Story Sentinels of Safety Award

    In October, representatives from Unimin's Schoolhouse Quartz plant traveled to Washington, DC to receive the Sentinels of Safety award from the National Mining Association. The award, established in 1925 by then U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, recognizes outstanding safety performance in the mining industry. This is the second consecutive year (2012 and 2013) that the Schoolhouse plant has received this coveted safety award. We are also extremely proud to note that this is the third time in four years that a Unimin facility has been recognized with the Sentinels of Safety award.

    Safety at Unimin is truly a team effort. Engagement of the entire team in the overall safety process, and especially the hourly workforce, is cited as the key to our safety record. Their hands-on experience brings important practical insight to safety initiatives. At Schoolhouse, hourly employees are increasingly taking ownership of the plant's safety programs to establish the safety agenda, identify areas for improvement, recommend corrective actions, and track deficiencies through to completion. Safety programs collaboratively conceived and collectively implemented reflect the best possible practice.

  • Unimin at a Glance

    Unimin is an application-focused company drawing from a diversified product portfolio and the worldwide production capabilities of Sibelco, its privately held parent organization. In Mexico, Unimin operates as Grupo Materias Primas and in Canada as Unimin Canada Ltd/Ltee. The Unimin executive offices are located in New Canaan, Connecticut with technology, analytical and sales service centers situated throughout North America.

    20,000,000 Tons Shipped to Customers Worldwide
    $1.6 Billion Annual Gross Revenue
    2400 Professionals Employed to Convert Natural Resources into Engineered Solutions
    94% Employee Retention Rate
    44 Mining and Mineral Processing Plants in US, Canada and Mexico
    Our Portfolio Industrial sand, high purity quartz, feldspar, nepheline syenite, microcrystalline silica, ball clay, kaolin, calcium carbonate and calcium quicklime and hydrated lime
  • Markets and Applications

    Unimin is North America's leading industrial mineral producer and technology partner to a diverse customer and market base. The Company is the world's largest producer of monocrystalline quartz proppants for oil and natural gas stimulation and recovery, and the world's largest producer of low-iron nepheline syenite for glass, ceramic, paint and plastic applications. Unimin is also the world's leading producer of high purity quartz, a highly specialized product used in the fabrication of integrated circuits, solar photovolaric cells and high intensity lighting.

    Highlight Story Applications
    Flat and architectural glass, glass containers, reinforcing fiberglass and insulation, lighting, plasma and LCD displays   Sanitary ware, floor and wall tile, tableware and ornamental ceramics, porcelain and porcelanato, insulators, structural clay tiles and brick
    Oil and natural gas stimulation and recovery, geothermal heat exchangers, solar energy collector panels and wind turbines
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      Foundry castings, precision and investment casting, steel making blast furnaces and sinter conditioners, metal conversion and refining
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    Crucibles and quartzware for computer chips manufacturing, high intensity quartz lighting, solar photovoltaic cells
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      Tires and hard rubber wearing parts, flexible membranes and soft rubber goods, plastic packaging and agricultural film, extruded and formed plastic parts
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    Industrial, marine and maintenance coatings, architectural trade paints, OEM and powder coatings, adhesives, sealants, mastics, clear coats and UV-cured systems
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      Paper and paperboard manufacturing, chemical processing, phosphate and fertilizer production, refractory bricks, shapes and spray-on linings
    Water production and filtration, concrete and precast structural members, engineered stone/artificial marble, asphalt and asphaltic emulsions, roofing shingles   Golf course construction, artificial sports surfaces, equestrian and race tracks, agricultural amendments, animal feed components, children's play sand
    Waste treatment and purification, soil remediation and stabilization, flue gas desulphurization   Personal care products, food supplements and processing aids, pharmaceutical grade nutritional additives
  • Applied Research

    The minerals we mine and process have inherent physical and chemical qualities, but it takes expertise and innovation to convert quarried rock into functional and valuable products. Unimin engineers industrial minerals to isolate specific chemical, physical and performance properties and continuously refines and improves product quality to deliver value to our customers. Depending on the application, finished products can take the form of stones, aggregates, granules or powders, with chemical purities and "critical to quality" elements statistically controlled for superior performance.

    Highlight Story Technical Affiliations

    Unimin is proud to be aligned with numerous organizations that make significant contributions to our industry and society. Unimin is an active participant in the Industrial Minerals Association - North America (IMA-NA), the National Industrial Sand Association (NISA), and other technical and advocacy organizations that promote best practices, enhance industry reputation and foster sustainable development in health, safety, operations and the environment.

    Technical Affiliations include:

    Adhesive and Sealant Council
    American Board of Industrial Hygiene
    American Ceramic Society
    American Chemical Society
    American Coatings Association
    American Foundry Society
    American Industrial Hygiene Association
    American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers
    American Society of Quality
    American Society of Safety Engineers
    Asociación Nacional de Transporte Privado, A.C. (ANTP)
    ASTM International
    Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals
    Board of Certified Safety Professionals
    Cámara Minera de México (CAMIMEX)
    Casting Industry Suppliers Association
    Ejecutivos en Relaciones Industriales A.C. (ERIAC)
    Glass Manufacturers Institute of America
    Glass Packaging Institute
    Glass Producers Transportation Council
    Golf Course Superintendents Association
    Industrial Minerals Association - North America (IMA-NA)
    International Association of Mine Safety Engineers
    International Standards Association
    National Fire Protection Association
    National Freight Transportation Association
    National Industrial Sand Association
    National Industrial Transportation League
    National Institute of Ceramic Engineers
    National Lime Association
    National Safety Council
    National Sanitation Foundation
    North American Rail Shippers
    Ontario Mining Association
    Quebec Mining Association
    Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)
    Society of Petroleum Engineers
    Society of Plastics Engineers
    Wildlife Habitat Council

  • Health and Safety Culture

    Unimin is a recognized leader in the mining and industrial minerals community, with a long working relationship with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that reflects our ongoing commitment to workplace safety. The Company has been singled out for its exemplary safety and health record with the prestigious Sentinels of Safety award by the National Mining Association (NMA).

    Highlight Story Reinforcing Safety Awareness

    Unimin further elevated the importance of safety consciousness with the introduction of a Company-sponsored Award for Safety & Health Excellence. The award and affiliated programs reflects the ongoing Executive Management Group's (EMG) commitment to promote safe practices and raise awareness of the Company-wide campaign for our fellow employee's welfare. Unimin's CEO and members of its senior leadership team regularly travel to the Company's mines, plants and operating terminals to encourage and reinforce safe work practices.

    Plants are divided into small, intermediate and large categories and judged eligible by their performance to satisfy the following minimum criteria:

    • Zero lost time incidents;
    • Zero modified duty incidents;
    • Zero regulator reportable incidents;
    • Achieved all applicable Dust Exposure Objectives; and
    • Zero regulator or Corporate Safety & Health housekeeping deficiencies.

    Plants that meet and exceed these criteria are nominated and judged by an awards committee. The award, recognition and incentives have proven to be a very effective investment to help reinforce our Safety & Health culture.

  • Unimin strives to be the best industrial minerals company in the world by continuously improving the qualities of our products, customer services and employee skills. We accomplish these goals through our Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) employed in an environment that encourages and rewards innovative thinking. Through continuous improvement and innovation we empower our employees and entrust them with the sustainability of our company.

    Highlight Story Responsible Mining Initiative

    Unimin announced it will invest more than $50,000 per year in a new Responsible Mining Initiative program established at the University of Wisconsin. Unimin's financial commitment provides monies for student and educator internships, scholarships and grants for the study of geology, hydrogeology, restorative ecology and regulatory policy.

    The investment represents a major commitment on the part of Unimin to the University's Responsible Mining program and an opportunity for Unimin to continuously improve and innovate with the benefit of the University’s academic perspective. The initiative will span a range of industry topics, including the economics of mineral recovery, responsible mining practices and environmental stewardship.

    "This is an incredible opportunity for our students to gain valuable professional experience. The program will produce creative, scientifically literate graduates who can make a positive difference in the mining industry", said Dr. Kent Syverson, Department Chairman at the University. Unimin's investment in the University's Responsible Mining Initiative is an investment in the next generation of mining, mineral processing and environmental professionals.

  • Continuous Improvement

    Unimin's Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) is a strategic program based upon the recognition that every business process within our organization can be defined, measured and improved by the people performing those tasks as part of the process. It is the Company's essential tool to benchmark, manage and improve our operational and organizational performance, and as such is an important part of our sustainability program. Major processes identified by individual departments as key performance indicators regularly undergo a CIP review.

    Highlight Story Continuous Improvement

    With guidance and coordination by Unimin's General Manager of Continuous Improvement and Innovation, departmental and cross-functional teams evaluate key processes by looking at the range of process types required to meet a business objective. Unimin identifies macro processes (such as mining or purchasing), major processes (such as grinding or distribution) and micro processes (such as taking samples or logging data) that need to run well in order for us to succeed. Unimin's Executive Management Group oversees the process, establishes priorities for the CIP application and regularly monitors progress. CIP teams have ownership and are responsible for improving their assigned processes by following the five steps of CIP:

    1. Define the Process
    2. Determine Process Goal and Requirements
    3. Develop and Implement the Process and Monitoring Systems
    4. Measure, Control and Improve the Process
    5. Assess the Process and Review with Management
  • Customer Engagement

    Customer requirements are frequently the genesis of new product development and it takes a collaborative team effort to turn those requirements into commercially viable products and services. Unimin research and development programs begin with strong customer and industry relationships, and processes that encourage cooperative exchange. Stakeholder engagement that actively listens to the ‘voice of the customer' is the foundation of Unimin's product and process improvement initiatives.

    Highlight Story Customer Driven Innovation

    Unimin has embarked upon a formal Company-wide initiative that challenges its employees to 'think outside the box' and share innovative ideas with their colleagues. Leading this initiative and designated as the innovation process manager is the General Manager Continuous Improvement and Innovation Services. The call for innovative ideas is an important engagement tool that promotes a sense of responsibility for and ownership of Unimin's future success.

    One novel approach successfully launched is an "Innovation Tournament"; a competition to encourage idea generation and to efficiently solicit and assess innovative ideas in a ‘crowd sourcing' exercise. In 2013, an Innovation Tournament sponsored by Unimin's Specialty Minerals Division brought together Company and industry representatives to identify current and future functional filler requirements. The brain storming session focused on improved product functionality, optimized processes and the product development pipeline.

    We use innovation and continuous improvement to focus and leverage company strengths to create value for our customers. In 2013 that focus was recognized by Halliburton Energy Services when it awarded Unimin it’s prestigious “Golden Hard Hat” supplier award for Service, Quality and Operational Excellence. During the award ceremony Unimin was cited as the first and only hydraulic fracturing proppant supplier to ever receive Halliburton’s Golden Hard Hat award.

  • Innovation at Work

    Innovation is one of the guiding principles we employ to create value for our stakeholders. Simply put, innovation is the novel solution to a need that creates value. Our approach is to encourage and nurture innovative thinkers and implement innovative ideas that will make a positive social, economic or environmental impact for our employees, customers, neighbors and communities.

    Highlight Story Innovation at Work

    Unimin partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop Helmet-CAM, a hard hat mounted video monitor used to identify hazardous work environments. The invention integrates two existing technologies in a portable tool to help identify tasks or workplaces with elevated exposures to harmful dust, gases or noise. The Helmet-CAM is particularly valuable to monitor the environment of mobile workers who typically move from location to location in the performance of their job function.

    Unimin first conceived the Helmet-CAM as a small video camera with a data logging monitor that could be worn on a safety belt or safety vest. NIOSH furthered the idea with computer software that synchronized video and data to assess exposure in real time and over a full work day. The ability to review exposure data in the context of real time video helps identify specific environments for additional safety investments. A number of mineral companies have participated in field testing and refinement, and today's Helmet-CAM technology has been adopted by a variety of manufacturing and industrial companies.

  • We are first and foremost citizens of our communities, and take great pride in the places we work. Our desire to be good neighbors is not just a symbolic gesture; it reflects our sincere outreach to local leaders, educators and civic organizations in support of our communities. We express our genuine interest for the welfare of our employees, friends and neighbors through donation, sponsorship and volunteerism.

    Highlight Story University of Sonora

    In March 2012, Grupo Materias Primas (GMP) donated 21.5 hectares (53 acres) of land at our Lampazos plant to the University of Sonora. The land is part of the Valle de los Saguaros, an area where the indigenous Saguaros (giant cacti) grow to average age of 200 to 300 years. The valley is also habitat to large populations of birds, mammals and reptiles, including at least 10 protected species listed in the NOM-059-SEMARNAT, the environmental protection act published by the Official Journal of the Federation of Mexico.

    GMP weighed a number of alternate use proposals for its holdings in Valle de los Saguaros before donating the land to the University. Citing University programs that support and promote wildlife conservation, ecosystem management and land restoration, GMP awarded the land to the University of Senora. The valley will be used by the University´s Department of Scientific and Technological Research for teaching and research projects.

  • Community Engagement

    Unimin depends upon good community relations and a constructive partnership between our Company, our neighbors and our many local stakeholders. We promote local collaboration and encourage our employees to be active and contributing members of our communities. To this end, every Unimin plant proactively develops a Community Action Plan (CAP) that reflects the needs of the surrounding community. These plans can include financial participation, volunteer programs and environmental initiatives in coordination with local government and organizations to benefit all who live and work in our communities.

    Highlight Story Good Neighbor

    Unimin's greenfield project to produce hydraulic fracturing sands in the rural community of Tunnel City, Wisconsin started with a community outreach effort to ensure all stakeholders and opinions were heard. When concerns were voiced about the operating practices of new-market entrants Unimin transported community members to its sister plants in Minnesota for a first-hand inspection of its mining, operating and land management practices. It was an important first step to build community confidence and trust.

    The constructive dialogue that ensued over many months helped Unimin formulate operating agreement that dispelled the town's concerns. The Tunnel City plant is a self-contained mining, processing and shipping operation, designed to unobtrusively co­-exist with the rolling countryside. More than 7 million cubic yards (5 million cubic meters) of earth were excavated to locate the plant below grade and behind a ridgeline built to conceal the operation and its rail infrastructure from the local country road. From the first exploratory team, Unimin proactively engaged its many stakeholders to prove itself a considerate and environmentally aware neighbor.

  • Lands for Learning

    Unimin actively supports the Wildlife Habitat Council's (WHC) Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL) program, which involves the community in wildlife and biodiversity educational opportunities. The program engages both employer and employees in the development and management of public access to Company property for educational activities and wildlife observation. Unimin has six sites that are certified CLL and has recertified its Spruce Pine Schoolhouse, North Carolina and Tamm/Elco, Illinois, plants through the CLL program.

    Highlight Story Prairie Ecology Center

    The Prairie Ecology Bus Center (PEBC) provides environmental education programs to pre-kindergarten through high school aged students in Minnesota and Iowa. Sponsored by Unimin and the Save the Kasota Prairie coalition, as many as 10,000 students participate in these programs annually. PEBC field trips cover many conservation and land management subjects; including prairie, forest, lake and stream ecosystems, water and wetland science and wildlife management.

    Access to the Minnesota prairie is facilitated by the Ecology Bus; a custom built, mobile classroom that connects students and teachers with their natural environment. Unimin's donation of $20,000 to the PEBC toward the purchase of a new Ecology Bus reflects our commitment to preserve and protect the Kasota Prairie. These historic prairie lands, which adjoin our mining and processing operations in Kasota, MN, stand as proof that industry and environmental preservation can co-exist in harmony. We're proud to play a small role in the education of next generation of ecologists and environmental stewards.

  • Local Investment

    Unimin remains committed to the economic and social development of the communities in which we operate. We encourage each of our facilities to spend locally wherever feasible, and we're proud to report that 18 of our plants locally sourced approximately 80% of their operating and construction-related materials. We approach community investment and local spending with the same long term perspective that we operate our mining and processing operations. We believe that an investment in our communities is an investment in our future.

    Highlight Story Investing in Our Communities

    Locally formulated Community Action Plans reflect our corporate commitment to support the communities in which we work. Our objective is to support the hundreds of volunteer driven initiatives that benefit our communities, our local schools, youth sports and scouting programs, veterans and service associations, and health and safety agencies.

    In Utica, Illinois our employees actively support the Village fire department's firefighter training programs and promote fire safety in the local schools. Unimin recently underscored its support for community safety with donations of $35,000 and $75,000 to the Utica Fire Protection District toward the purchase of a new ambulance, fire rescue truck and associated medical equipment. "Unimin has been a community supporter for many years," said Fire Chief Gary Gbur, "and the new rescue truck replaces an old van that wasn't safe, efficient or reliable to aid us in properly responding to community needs."

    Unimin’s financial and volunteer participation in its local communities ranges from Adopt-A-Highway programs to funding for the Discovery Place Children’s Museum. In North Carolina, Unimin was quick to respond when the Avery County Sheriff's police dog Mikki sustained a spinal injury and could not return to work. Unimin responded with a $8,000 donation to purchase and train Mikki's replacement.

  • Since its inception, Unimin has been a conscientious steward of the environment. While compliance with all local, state and federal regulatory and statutory requirements has always been a mandatory operating objective, our intention is to exceed these requirements and to optimize the use and recovery rates of natural resources in our charge through our Continuous Improvement Process.

    Highlight Story Greenfield Co-Existence

    Experience gained over years of land and habitat management was particularly valuable as Unimin opened a new mine in Tunnel City, Wisconsin. When the Company discovered that its original Tunnel City site design might negatively impact a traditional habitat of the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly, it revised the site plan and proactively contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a long-­term conservancy plan.

    Unimin is the first mining company to partner with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Statewide Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan. The Company has set aside a total of 108 acres (44 hectares) at Tunnel City as habitat for Karner Blue Butterfly and seeded the tract with a diverse mix that will support the Karner Blue and other native pollinating species.

  • Land

    Land is one of the most important resources we manage, and we invest significant financial and human effort to efficiently use this valuable commodity. Our objective is to balance economic and environmental objectives in a manner that ultimately returns mined land to an ecologically appropriate landscape. Three-dimensional mine modeling maximizes the land's productive output while minimizing waste and specifying a reclamation strategy to be implemented throughout the mineral extraction process.

    Highlight Story Reclaimed for the Future

    Unimin's Ottawa and Kasota operations collaborate with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited to design and build reclaimed land and wetlands that complement the surrounding landscape.

    At Ottawa, MN Unimin is reclaiming the site to its pre-settlement 1890's prairie and big woods ecosystems. The created landforms tie into the undulating bluffs of the Minnesota River Valley and combine with newly planted native fauna to create a natural habitat for wildlife. At Kasota, MN dolomite rock outcroppings and glacial erratics are being strategically placed within the reclaimed areas to recreate glacial landforms. Other geomorphic features including depressions, wetlands and hummock features create diverse habitats for a wide range of wildlife.

    In the broader Minnesota River Valley, Unimin’s $40,000 donation to Ducks Unlimited is helping to restore and protect the water quality of shallow lakes and wetlands. “Unimin has been an environmental steward for many years, and we’re proud to have them as a partner”, said Minnesota State Chairman Tim Robie.

    Through its reclamation and conservation initiatives, Unimin has been able to connect public and private open spaces into one large greenspace corridor along the Minnesota River Valley. The area is designated as one of Minnesota's most significant and prolific locations for biodiversity.

  • Energy

    Consistent with our culture of continuous improvement, it is our objective to improve our energy efficiency. Unimin plants operate with state-of-the-art technologies to minimize energy consumption, including renewable energy sources such as hydropower and bio-gas to help preserve finite hydrocarbon resources. Several plants utilize exhaust gases to pre-heat dryer circuits for additional energy savings. A corporate environmental officer coordinates the activities of environmental professionals to ensure operations are consistent with our commitment to sustainability.

    Highlight Story Focused on Energy Efficiency

    Energy efficient LED lights have been part of Unimin's engineering standards and best operating practices since 2009. While the initial acquisition cost is about 20% to 30% greater than sodium or metal halide lights, LED lights use approximately 40%-50% less electricity than the comparable sodium or metal halide alternatives. The lower demand on local power generation resources and reduced operating costs can represent as much as $25,000 annual savings. LED lights are also highly efficient in Unimin's industrial environment. Their longer operating life also translates into lower total maintenance and disposal costs.

    Unimin recently completed another green energy investment with the installation of a 45 kilowatt solar system on the roof of its corporate office. The project employs 162 high efficiency mono crystalline photovoltaic cells produced with the Company’s IOTA high purity quartz. The solar panels will produce 55,170 kilowatt hours of electricity per year and are expected to offset that portion of the building’s annual electricity consumption for the next 25 years. The Company’s solar energy project joins a growing list of green and energy efficient projects underway throughout North America.

  • Water

    Water is an essential component of our mining and mineral processing. We understand the finite quality of this vital resource and work diligently to ensure that water is managed in a way that is cost effective for the business as well as sustainable for the environment. Unimin strives to optimize its water balance by continuously recycling and reusing process water in closed loop systems. In addition to our conservation efforts, Unimin is equally diligent to control effluent water quality, monitor permitted discharge and proactively manage storm water to satisfy and exceed local regulations.

    Highlight Story Engineering Water Conservation

    Unimin's newest industrial sand plant in Tunnel City, Wisconsin produces 2 million tons of hydraulic fracturing sand per year. That annual volume typically requires 2.5 billion gallons (9.5 billion liters) of water to wash and process the mined feedstock. Process water would traditionally be supplemented either by drawing clean water from surface sources or by tapping the underground aquifer.

    An innovative pairing of water management technologies by Unimin’s engineering team reduced the plant's expected make-up water requirement by 97%. The Tunnel City design includes a stand-alone water filtration plant that employs vacuum belts, thickener tanks and filter presses to clean and recycle approximately 9,700 gallons (37,000 liters) of water per minute. Seven high capacity pumps operate in a closed-loop circuit to replenish process water for the wash and hydrosizer plant with clean, treated water from the filtration plant.

  • Air Quality

    Unimin is committed to protecting the air quality of our surrounding communities by minimizing emissions from our facilities. We accomplish this objective by identifying and using cleaner alternate energy sources, installing state-of-the-art control devices and practicing best management policies to minimize emissions from mining, processes and related sources. Unimin plants undergo comprehensive and environmental audits to ensure our impacts are being minimized.

    Highlight Story Innovative Clean Air Solution

    When fossil fuels are burned in industrial processes, nitrogen oxides are emitted into the air, contributing to the production of ground level ozone. Unimin's Southern Lime Company, in Calera, Alabama proactively installed a selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) system to reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions at the cost of more than $500,000. The new system injects a non-hazardous urea solution into the process exhaust that reacts with the gasses to produce harmless forms of nitrogen and water. As a result, total nitrogen-oxide emissions at the plant have been reduced by more than 10%.

    The Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) recognized Unimin's voluntary installation of a Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) system with the Governor's Conservation Achievement Award: "Air Conservationist of the Year." The award is presented for making "great contributions to the conservation of Alabama's wildlife and related natural resources," in recognition of Unimin's voluntary installation of its lime kiln at the Calera plant.

  • Biodiversity

    An essential component of Unimin's resource management program is our commitment to preserve and enhance the diversity of animal and plant life on the lands we manage. Since 1993, Unimin has been regularly recognized by the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for our preservation and restoration efforts. Unimin sites have consistently been recognized for excellence in preserving and restoring habitats. By the end of 2013, the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) had certified 37 of our sites through their Wildlife at Work program.

    Highlight Story The Magazine Mine

    Unimin received the Conservation Action Award from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) for its conservation efforts at its Jason and Magazine mines in southern Illinois. Unimin is a long-time partner with state, federal and private organizations to re-purpose its former underground mines as home to several bat species, including the Indiana Bat, big brown bat and eastern pipstrelle. These night time predators control the insect population, and their preservation is essential to our neighbors in the local farming community.

    The Magazine Mine is the largest underground silica mine in the region. Unimin partnered with Bat Conservation International, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Southern Illinois University, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service to survey and stabilize the site as a hibernation cave for the bat population. Unimin also worked with the US Forest Service to reclaim its Jason mine and restore a 10 acre area adjoining the Shawnee National Forest to create a successful wildlife food plot. Volunteers from our Tamms and Elco plants manage approximately 275 acres on Unimin property as habitat for bats and other endangered species. The team regularly visits local schools and conducts field trips to teach and encourage wildlife conservation.

  • Energetic, intelligent and motivated people find professional fulfillment and life long career opportunities at Unimin. We recruit and retain the best people by offering our employees a work environment where their talents and energies are challenged. Many have been with us for a decade or more and some have been with us their entire working career. From highly trained equipment specialists to professional engineers and research scientists, talented individuals work together as colleagues with a shared vision and objectives.

    Employee Demographics

  • Safe Workplaces

    Unimin's SLAM RISKS program trains all employees to STOP, LOOK, ANALYZE, and MANAGE potential RISKS encountered on the job and at home. If there is a risk associated with a task, we remind each other to recognize, evaluate and safely manage that risk. Originally developed by Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA), Unimin SLAMS RISKS programs have significantly reduced the number of reportable incidents. With very positive feedback, the program has been expanded to all office locations and home-bound communications.

    Highlight Story Silver Helmet Award

    Our Ahuazotepec, Puebla, Mexico plant has been honored in consecutive years by the Mining Chamber of Mexico (CAMIMEX) with the Silver Helmet Award. The award recognizes mining and metallurgical companies that have achieved superior safety performance through industrial safety innovations. Ahuazotepec's achievement is further distinguished by its record 1.5 million safe working hours without a lost time incident.

    The operation was cited for its advanced Respiratory Protection Program which established a maximum permissible limit to dust exposure that was half of the Maximum Permissible Limit authorized by the Official Mexican Standard of the Ministry of Labor and Welfare. Engineering investments, innovative application of personal protection equipment and best work practices were combined to achieve the lower exposure levels. An expanded medical surveillance program and newly implemented contractor pre-qualification program reinforces the Company's emphasis on workplace safety.

  • Health and Wellness Programs

    Our wellness programs are designed to provide employees and their families with information and opportunities that promote healthier lifestyles. Annual Health Risk Assessments and Biennial Health Programs are designed to pro-actively monitor and manage personal health and well being.

    Highlight Story Personal Sustainability

    Unimin promotes Wellness Rocks!, a preventative wellness program that encourages healthier choices and lifestyles for our employees and their families. The Wellness Rocks! Program features Company paid biennial health exams and comprehensive annual health screenings with biometric feedback. Unimin also sponsors Health & Wellness Week with an emphasis on fitness challenges and home safety and education.

    We also support our employees in their individual wellness challenges. To overcome the health risks associated with tobacco use, we offer employees and their spouses full reimbursement for approved methods of tobacco cessation. The Company also funds a confidential counseling program for employees and their immediate families.

  • Training

    We recognize the value of a skilled workforce and the need for ongoing training and education to ensure that our employees perform their jobs to the best of their ability. We also take responsibility for providing employees with professional development opportunities as well as enhancing their personal lives. Unimin University is the umbrella under which we organize these employee development initiatives.

    Highlight Story Unimin University

    Unimin University is our one-stop shop for all in-house training needs, whether online or in-person. These initiatives encompass the enhanced development of training plans for every employee, with greater focus on succession planning, management development, and additional resources to train employees for leadership roles in the company. All of these efforts are supported by our learning management system (LMS) and performance review system, both of which are available to employees online.

    We are developing a broader curriculum that will include courses in wellness, ethics, compliance and safety and health. The most unique element of Unimin University is that it will be completely self-paced; aside from the required training courses, employees can log in at their leisure and take any course they want. Further, we are developing a skills assessment for each course that employees will be required to take upon completion of a course to determine if they have adequately learned the necessary skills or knowledge associated with the course.

    Our Ahuazotepec, Mexico plant champions personal growth through a program that teaches hourly employees how to read and write. This initiative is conducted in conjunction with the National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) and enjoys a very successful graduation rate. The Company also implemented a Learning Management System (LMS in Mexico) to support the professional development with 20 online courses ranging from Sustainability to Labor Relations, Troubleshooting and Performance Management.