By Tim Gardner
A merger of the Unimin Corporation, which has facilities in Avery and Mitchell counties, with the Ohio-based Fairmount Santrol Company, a provider of high-performance sand and related product solutions used by oil and gas exploration and production companies to enhance productivity, is nearing completion.
Unimin has one plant in Avery County (Kalmia) and several in Mitchell County— in the Spruce Pine and Bakersville regions. Unimin employs dozens from Avery and Mitchell counties.
According to company officials, the merger is on course to be completed at its targeted time of mid-2018. The combined entity will be known as Covia Holdings Corporation.
Unimin’s high-purity quartz business in Spruce Pine, which mainly serves electronics manufacturers in Asia, will not be part of the merger and instead will become a separate entity owned by Unimin’s parent company, Sibelco.
“This is a compelling transaction for our shareholders and for our many other stakeholders, including our customers, employees and communities,” said Jenniffer Deckard, president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fairmount Santrol. “By combining the complementary strengths of both Unimin and Fairmount Santrol, we will create a premier provider of industrial materials and proppant solutions with benefits and growth opportunities that far surpass what either company could achieve alone. Together we will serve our customers more efficiently and effectively with a broader and more diverse product offering, greater technical expertise, improved scale and geographic diversity and an expanded logistics platform. We have long respected the Unimin organization and believe our shared cultures of sustainability and long-term value creation will enable us to realize the benefits of this merger.”
The combined company will be the largest provider of proppant solutions to the energy industry and of industrial materials solutions. It also will possess the most extensive technical and applications expertise and will have the largest portfolio of high-purity sands and nepheline syenite production in North America.
The merged entity’s executive leadership team will include a combination of existing leaders from both Unimin and Fairmount, with the combined company utilizing the significant strengths of the quality workforce from both companies.
Campbell Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unimin, said of the merger: “We are excited to join forces with Fairmount as we believe this combination is an ideal fit for our value-driven orientation and long-term vision of strength through diversity of products and end markets. Fairmount is an excellent partner for Unimin and shares our strategy of providing superior and innovative product solutions for the growing energy and industrial segments. Together, our combined network of flagship plants, terminals and rail access will deliver greater capacity and more cost-competitive supply to meet our customers’ needs.”
The location of the combined entity’s headquarters is still to be announced. The merged company will maintain regional offices to leverage both companies’ significant operating presence, partnerships and employee bases.
Unimin officials have not indicated any of its facilities or plants will be closed or a reduction in the number of its employees as a result of the merger.
Unimin operates 38 sand, mineral and coating processing facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico that serve a variety of energy and industrial customers. Unimin’s broad portfolio of minerals including silica sand, with feldspar, nepheline syenite, lime, clays, calcium carbonate and olivine, allows Unimin to offer a multi-mineral product mix to its industrial customers.