Have you ever wondered how glass is made? Did you know that silica sand is the key ingredient in making glass?
Glass is a unique product in that it is 100% recyclable. It can be used, re-used and re-used again yet it never loses its quality, purity or clarity. Made from all-natural materials, glass is the preferred packaging material among consumers for maintaining the purity of the food and beverage products they consume as well as for being easily recyclable to better protect the environment.
For glass, it all begins with sand. G3 acquired its Byron Sand mine in 2011 as part of our broader strategy to support the wine and spirits industry. With the Byron Sand mine, the G3 Minerals Division has become integral to major glass bottle manufacturers in Northern and Central California. Today, G3 also offers a variety of specialty sand blends for golf courses, sport arenas, and large construction projects.
Mining the Sand
G3 mines the sand with an eye toward restoring the land to a natural wildlife. The longevity of a sand mine is typically 40-50 years. It is estimated that the Byron Sand Mine has about 20 more years of production and then the land will be reclaimed and repurposed as an open habitat. Given that the mine is located next to Mount Diablo Regional Park, G3 has been working with various government agencies to dedicate 450 acres to a conservation easement and integrate this area into the Park’s trail system. Future under consideration are expanding the Park’s east entry using the reclaimed areas along Vasco Road. Already, G3 has changed its fencing on the parameter of the mine property to benefit wildlife movement between the mine property and the parkland.
Sand and Sustainability
G3’s commitment to the environment doesn’t stop with the conservation easement. A few years ago, the company established a one-megawatt solar system which provides 30% of the mine’s energy making it a net exporter of power during the summer. No chemicals are used in the mining process. The water used to clean the sand is discharged to recycling ponds where it provides essential habitat for a robust mix of birds and amphibians. The primary byproduct of sand mining is clay. That clay is returned to settling ponds where it provides an excellent foundation for future reclaimed grassland; topsoil and plants seeds is provided to create grassy open space and a highly valuable wildlife habitat.
The Byron Mine is a critical supply link to the wine and spirits bottling industry in California. The sand at the Byron Mine is unique in that it is comprised of feldspathic sand containing alumina which is essential in providing strength to glass bottles. G3’s mine operations maximize the sand being produced while minimizing impacts to the environment. It is committed to providing more public land for Californians to enjoy and more critical habitats to benefit native wildlife.