Contractor Saves Customer Millions on Quarry Drainage System Project

Wisconsin’s Elexco has built up a reputation for taking on challenging jobs many other companies might pass up

Contractor Saves Customer Millions on Quarry Drainage System Project

Jeff Seidl, owner of Elexco

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Jeff Seidl enjoys a good challenge, taking on jobs other companies might pass up and solving customers’ problems. And the owner of Wisconsin-based Elexco did just that when the company tackled a project in 2003 that ended up saving the owner of a North Carolina rock quarry millions of dollars per year in operating expenses.

“The company was looking for a solution and called some equipment manufacturers for contractor recommendations,” Seidl says, explaining how a Wisconsin company got a job in North Carolina. “One manufacturer told them that if anyone was crazy enough to try it, it’s me. I may be nuts for taking something like this on, but if I commit to something, I’ll do whatever it takes to get it done.”

The North Carolina company mines limestone that’s high in natural cement content, then crushes and processes it to create cement. But the rock also has high moisture content; as such, the company has to bake it in kilns to dry it out — a process that was costing millions of dollars a year in energy expenses, Seidl says.

The solution: Seidl proposed creating a deep-ditch drainage system under and around the quarry that would capture moisture/stormwater as it leached from the limestone and transport it to a central location where it could be pumped out.

“I did a lot of homework — talked to the customers, geologists and people I know who’ve done dewatering projects — and felt the project had a low risk of failure,” he says.

By the time the project was completed, Elexco crews had used a modified Trencor trencher to dig 10,000 feet of 100-foot-deep ditches.

“We kept benching down with an excavator to get the trencher’s tracks lower and lower,” Seidl says. “We had to customize the machine. We extended the boom to 88 feet so it could dig 100 feet down and we also beefed up the power train — things like bearings, the drive shaft and the engine. We also had to widen the tracks so it could straddle the trench, which was 32 inches wide.”

The company’s officials showed Seidl where the water was migrating, so he knew where to cut the trenches strategically to capture water coming into those areas.

The result? The water content in the mined rock dipped to an average of between 7% and 9%, down from up to 25%, he says. 

The project, which took about 10 weeks to complete (not including three months to modify the trencher), went even better than Seidl expected.

“It was very successful for the customer,” he says. “It made the plant manager look very good and saved the company a huge amount of money for the life of the mine. And completing a project that complex was great for our crew’s morale, too.”

Read more about Elexco in the November/December 2021 issue of Dig Different magazine.


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