Committed to Serving Our Communities
At Superior Silica Sands, we believe it is vital to be a responsible partner in the communities where we live and work. That’s why we strive to be a responsive community partner, giving back whenever possible, and thereby adding to everyone’s quality of life. We serve on community boards, take part in local activities and events, and are actively involved in organizations that add to the betterment of our communities. We are guided by a core set of beliefs that we should be friendly, accessible people who believe in working for the greater good. We strive every day to live up to our motto: Culture, Cultivation, & Community.
At Superior Silica Sands (SSS) the health and safety of our employees and communities in which our operations are located is our top priority. We take several measures to ensure our employees are regularly monitored for preventative care for dust inhalation, including pre-employment and annual health screenings as well as air sampling monitors placed on all of our plant and mine employees to monitor for quartz and silica dust in their work environment. As a responsible corporate leader, we cover the cost of lung x-rays for pulmonary & respiratory monitoring to rule out any possibility of silicosis. We also have dust monitors strategically placed in and around the neighborhoods near our operations and have the readings monitored and reviewed by a third party lab, to ensure we are not contributing to air pollution in our communities.
In addition to monitoring our employees’ wellness, we actively promote physical fitness among our entire corporation with our S.A.N.D. M.O.V.E.S. initiative! S.A.N.D. M.O.V.E.S. (Stay Active Night and Day, because Motion Optimizes Vitality, Energy & Strength) is geared toward keeping our employees active for quality of life and longevity, and we promote this initiative in our communities with participation in “fun runs” fundraiser events, cycling events for local law enforcement agencies, along with many other physical fitness community events. Our marketing team includes a new challenge in each months’ newsletter to motivate our employees to stay active! Check out our Facebook page to view the “S.A.N.D. M.O.V.E.S.” photos and community involvement.
Lastly, Superior Silica Sands actively trains our employees on safety, which includes ergonomics training for proper lifting, pulling, pushing and sitting to prevent injury. Additionally, our weekly “Toolbox Talks” implemented at our plants is designed as a refresher in first aid, environmental safety, PPE, equipment safety, and daily workplace checks. Our plants hold annual MSHA courses to ensure our employees are up to date on the latest safety laws and regulations. Further, we have a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use and perform regular, random, testing as well as provide awareness and prevention courses as a measure to keep our employees safe and alert. Part of what makes Superior Silica Sands unique as an employer is we cross-train all of our dry plant and mine employees on all heavy equipment, including the operation of switching engines, to allow for flexibility and prevent complacency in the work environment.
Corporate responsibility in our communities is another of Superior Silica Sands’ (SSS) top priorities. We constantly scrutinize our own operations to ensure the footprint we leave in the economy is better than when we began. Prior to committing to the purchase of property for our mining operations, we go through extensive planning, outlining a comprehensive reclamation process with the land owners, so they are assured before we even begin setting up the mine, the land will be replenished to a useable property for farming or forestry, depending upon what the landowner prefers. Since our operations began in Wisconsin in 2009, we have reclaimed eighteen (18) acres of the Webber mine located in Chippewa Falls, WI, (as of September of 2015). Additionally, we have already begun the reclamation projects at our FLS & Thompson Hills mines that began operations in 2014. At Superior, our belief is to truly “leave it better than we found it.”
Because the environment is on the forefront of our thoughts, we also participate in recycling programs at our plants and mines. Not only do we recycle plastic, paper and aluminum materials to help eliminate landfill waste, we also recycle water at our mines used in the wash process. At our Webber plant, for example, we have a high cap well that was designed to fill the fresh water tank needed to pull water through our wet plant to wash the sand after mining. With the seemingly simple innovation of installing a diesel pump, we are able to use recycled pond water to fill the fresh water tank versus using the high cap well. This process uses ~486,000 gallons of pond water per day, saving the equivalent of the well water to be used as clean water for human consumption instead.
Further, SSS has partnered with Chippewa County to work with the United States Geologic Survey and Wisconsin Geologic and Natural History Survey to conduct a study that evaluates the current and future impacts of groundwater use in mining and agriculture. This ongoing study is now at the point of being able to predict future water use scenarios, which Superior will offer extensive insight on the water use specific to mining operations. Moreover, SSS is working with the University of Wisconsin (River Falls Campus) on a study focused on mine reclamation. We have dedicated manpower resources as well as monetary resources to this study. Through these processes SSS is able to reduce its eco footprint, further increasing the cultivation of the environment.
Additionally, Superior Silica Sands continues to introduce new technologies that are revolutionizing the proppant industry, separating us from our peers in a very strategic way. One of the newest additions to our product line is SandGuard ™. SandGuard ™ uses a coating agent to protect the integrity of the sand grain, reducing the amount of dust particles created during the many handling stages from the mine to the well. In an effort to protect people that are exposed to crystalline silica, OSHA proposed that the permissible exposure levels (PEL) over an 8 hour period be reduced from the present 100 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter on February 12, 2013. Due to the difficulty of implementing a technology to achieve these levels, this process had not been adopted, until now. Superior’s SandGuard™ is proven to reduce the respirable silica to less than the detectable 25 micrograms per cubic meter; a welcome sight in the Oil & Gas Industry! At Superior we continue to analyze current processes, along with new technologies to remain on the cutting edge of environmental sustainability, separating us from our peers in a very responsible
Knowing our business makes a huge impact on the people surrounding us, SSS takes the initiative to be transparent to our “neighbors” in many ways, as our presence in these communities would be very difficult if it were unwelcome.
It’s important to us to hire within our communities rather than bring in out-of-towners to operate our mines and dry plant operations. This ensures we continue to support the people in our “hometowns” by providing jobs for the local economy. By hiring locally, SSS indirectly creates support for local businesses, such as restaurants and local shops by sustaining a workforce that reinforces the economy. Further, due to the traffic needed to transport our sand from the wet plant to the dry plant operations, SSS funds a large part of the road repairs and maintenance to ensure the transportation within our communities remains smooth and hassle-free.
Giving back to our communities is equally as important as transparency, and Superior goes above and beyond when offering support to the locality. Many members of our Wisconsin management teams have regular attendance at the local township board meetings. We feel having a presence at the board meetings allows us to understand, not only what’s going on in the communal environment, but also the impact our operations have in these communities. In addition to the support of local administration, many of our team members are board members of well-known non-profit organizations, such as Kiwanis International, Be Well Barron County, American Heart Association, and Attitudes and Attire, not to mention numerous area churches. The volunteering of one’s time is proportionately as significant as monetary donations to many non-profit organizations.
Superior has also made an impact with monetary donations to many worthy organizations as an example of its commitment to providing a better future for those in need. Aside from the support offered to the local law enforcement and fire departments with participation in fun runs, and biking events, SSS has offered regular donations to organizations such as the Food Pantry and the Tarrant Area Food Bank to combat hunger. SSS is also leading the New Auburn village fire department house construction campaign. Likewise, certain children’s organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and Kinship have been staple organizations Superior has backed to support the future growth and protection of children.
Another way SSS supports children is by donating sand to local schools for playground and sports field developments to allow for safe places for play. These are just a few examples of the caliber of Superior Silica Sands’ commitment to be a responsible corporate leader in our communities, and beyond.