The Advanced Primary Minerals Corporation in Dearing is being proactive. Although it won't be fully operational until July, Plant Manager Stacy Peavey recently called a meeting with local emergency personnel to discuss formulating a safety plan and policy.
"You don't ever really know what can happen. And if something does happen, it happens so fast, I just want to know what to do before it happens," Mr. Peavey said.
The kaolin processing plant opened recently on the Eubank Lumber Company property in Dearing. Mr. Peavey added that he does not expect any emergency because the plant operates under Mine Safety and Health Administration standards, but he just wants to make sure everything will be handled correctly in any unforeseen event.
Mr. Peavey met with Maj. Ronnie Williamson, Sgt. Mike Hobbs, Dep. Kalvin Johnson and Dep. Bret Bentley of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, 911 Communications Director Tracy Neal, and Dearing Firefighter Rhusha Mack.
The group discussed differentiating between the lumber company facility and the kaolin facility because they share the same address, contact information of plant officials, how the gas, electricity and water is serviced and the location of cut off valves, training employees in first aid and CPR, bringing the fire department into the facility for a walk through to familiarize them with the site and providing them a drawing of the plant that shows fire hydrant locations and an evacuation route, vandalism and truck traffic coming in and out of the plant.
The 60x90x30-foot facility sits on three acres and is being used to process kaolin. The kaolin currently being processed is being mined on Tudor Road, according to Mr. Peavey, but later will come from other parts of McDuffie County via a slurry pipeline.
The kaolin in McDuffie County is predominantly 50 percent clay to 50 percent sand, according to APMC mineralogist and Vice-President of Operations David Avant, and cannot be found anywhere else in Georgia. It is similar to that shipped to America from Europe. When the plant opened in Dearing, officials said it would be a boutique operation producing niche products for industrial ceramics, such as toilets and sinks.
The plant currently employs five in addition to "a huge amount of contractors" according to CEO Ken MacDonald, and is the beginning of a 10-year, two-phase development, which is projected to result in many more jobs for the area.
"So, it's been a nice little stimulus for the county because we've injected a fair bit of investment in the area," Mr. MacDonald said. "It's a new plant and we are producing clay out of it now, and shipping out of there. We're just still in the process of fine tuning the installation. Our orders came ahead of our ability to get the full installation complete, so that's a good thing and a bad thing."