Greenfield Plant, Growing Market

Luck Stone Digs In At Its New Fairfield Operation In South Carolina, 
A Greenfield Start-Up Poised To Serve Local Growth And Development.

By Mark S. Kuhar

The area north of Columbia, S.C., is growing. With increasing population, businesses relocating to the region and a major university to the South, there will be rising infrastructure needs for the foreseeable future. Luck Stone just opened a new quarry operation on several hundred acres north of the city and is now poised to serve the aggregates requirements of the fast-developing area.

“We broke ground at our Fairfield site in late 2022,” said Trevor McLouth, general manager, South Carolina at Luck Stone. “We opened the gates about a year later. But there was a lot of work that came before that in terms of site selection, community outreach, permitting and site planning.”

The move is in keeping with the company’s eye toward expanding in the Southeast. And expanding brings with it Luck Stone’s mission to “Ignite Human Potential” and provide greater opportunities for its associates as well as the communities in which it operates.

Permitting and Production
The permitting process was, as is typical, a tough job. “Permitting is an enormous undertaking,” McLouth said. “We have great teams that work tirelessly at this, they reach out in the community and work together with local, county and state agencies to make sure the permitting process is completed.”

Luck Stone’s mine plan with South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control permits the company to mine only on certain portions of the property but conduct mining activities across the majority of the property.

When you start a greenfield operation, you start from square one. That means, in developing the quarry, you start at the very top and work down.

The drill and blast portion of the production process is just in its infancy at the operation, as they are developing the first quarry faces on the initial bench. “We do our own drilling using an Epiroc SmartROC D60 and contract out the blasting portion,” McLouth said. “We continue our partnership with Austin Powder for shot service and explosives.”

At the emerging quarry face, a Cat 988 wheel loader is used, and 70-ton Caterpillar and Komatsu haul trucks cycle between the muckpile and the primary crusher.

The production process in the quarry is managed by Mellott, the well-known aggregates industry crushing-and-screening services provider based in Warfordsburg, Pa.

“As we’ve grown in South Carolina we’ve had a huge opportunity to strengthen the relationship we enjoy with Mellott,” McLouth said. “They have a long history working in greenfield operations and activity. It’s been a great partnership and we are pleased to work together with them.”

Mellot has staged a plant that can be expanded to meet production and sales capacity needs at the site using what is ostensibly portable equipment, but currently stationary for use. The set-up focuses on Metso crushing equipment, with the primary being a jaw crusher.

“After material is crushed at the jaw, it goes to a Deister secondary screen where we create our base, rip-rap and surge products,” McLouth said, “then the oversize goes to the secondary crusher. After that, everything is conveyed to a Metso tertiary screen to make sure the material meets our top size requirements and specifications. Anything that is oversize is crushed at the tertiary crusher. Then, material goes to a Deister wash screen for final cleaning and sizing.”

Luck Stone also utilizes a McLanahan 36-in. double sand screw at the site.

The plant is set up with a hybrid automation package. It can be run off of a single computer. But the plant can also be run manually, typically with a four-person crew on site.

Water and Delivery
With water a precious commodity at quarries all across the country, Luck Stone focuses on responsible re-use.

“We rely on a water supply that we procure from dewatering our pit,” McLouth said. “We add some source water for our wash process, then after use, the water passes through a series of settling ponds to allow the fine material to settle out. We recycle that water for further use in the production process. Factor in stormwater runoff, which we capture, and we have adequate water supply for our current needs.”

The plant’s water supply is also used for dust suppression. “While the plant is technically set up using portable equipment it was also set up with expansion in mind, “ McLouth said. “As opportunities increase in the market, we can increase production by expanding this plant. The durable construction of the plant gives us the flexibility to stretch its capabilities further.”

Core products made at the plant include road base, a surge or rip rap product, a dry screening, wash sand as well as a coarse and chip material.

The targeted customers for the plant will be concrete and asphalt producers, “plus others that range in size from large site developers to homeowners,” McLouth said. The quarry’s market area will specially focus on that area north of Columbia.

Post-production, material is trucked out the gate, after vehicles pass over a truck scale and wheel wash. A quality control lab and offices are also housed in the building adjacent to the truck scale.

“We have our own internal software that we created and utilize to expediate loadout,” McLouth said. “Drivers can either get a paper ticket or a PDF version available either online or through an app. “It’s a homegrown solution that works very well for us.”

Facing the Future
The success or failure of a new operation can sometimes be directly tied to its relationship with the local community. Luck Stone has that base covered.

“It’s our desire to be incredibly active in the local community,” McLouth said. “We will continue to recruit our associates from the local workforce and are very much invested in the community’s success. We believe our success is tied to theirs. We will continue to be active in many ways, whether that is philanthropic, volunteer work or anything else we can do to create deep relationships. It is important for us to be transparent as to what goes on inside of our gate.”

Luck Stone’s Fairfield plant is off to a great start, but as the company further develops the site and serves the market, certainly the best is yet to come.

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