Collier Materials has announced plans for a new Lake LBJ sand dredging operation and plant in Kingsland. Formerly, the mining company had sought to set up a sand refining plant near Sandy Creek but met opposition from residents.
The new plant, scheduled to be up and running in March or April of 2021, will refine dredged sand so it can be sold commercially or used in construction. The proposed plant will be at County Road 309 and RM 2900 near the Comanche Rancheria community with access to the Llano River.
Locals had voiced concerns regarding a plant and dredging operation at the previously chosen Sandy Creek location and organized a group, Save Sandy Creek, to fight its implementation. Their complaints included fears of noise pollution, environmental damage, and traffic.
“There had been word he had withdrawn his permit, but until I heard it from him officially, I have always been hesitant to declare victory until the facts were in,” said Fermin Ortiz of Save Sandy Creek. “He was very gracious, and we appreciate him committing that he will no longer be trying to get into Sandy Creek.”
The new location will ultimately be an improvement over the Sandy Creek location, said Collier Materials Vice President Kevin Collier. The plant’s hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, never holidays.
It will move 100-120 truckloads of material per day.
“We plan on pulling about 425 tons an hour out of the lake,” Collier said. “It’s got to go somewhere. We don’t have no choice there.”
Currently, no local options exist at which to offload the material. Millions of tons can be withdrawn by dredging — often to maintain waterways and shorelines — but it is hard to get rid of because it simply isn’t useful on its own. Dredged material has to be refined, cleaned, and processed to be a useful product.
“We’re even already in talks with another group that is interested in barging material from other parts of the lake to the new plant,” he said, attesting to the need for the plant.
The plant will produce concrete sand, golf course sand, and mortar sand from the fine particulate at its new location. The previous plan for Sandy Creek was similar in many ways but would have used louder, heavier machinery such as a crusher. The material at the Kingsland location has more “fines” and less coarse matter.
“Another big thing about this plant over the (Sandy Creek) plant is the crusher. This plant is not going to need a crusher,” Collier said. “There’s actual fines in this material. Here, there are so many fines that we’re going to have to pull the fines out.”
Fewer trucks will be used, which will also lessen noise and dust, Collier said. Instead, the plant will transport material from the river using a series of conveyor belts rather than driving trucks into a creek.
“The neighbors won’t even hear this operation going,” Collier said. “Long term, it’ll actually save us money to do this way. It’s a much more effective way of doing it. The main thing is it’s going to be a totally quiet operation. You can stand right beside (the motors) and not hear much.”