Minerals firm set to close New Canaan offices

December 19, 2018

NEW CANAAN — Minerals and materials firm Covia plans to close its local offices in 2020, a restructuring that would cut dozens of local jobs in the next year.

About 60 employees, at 258 Main St., would be affected, according to a company letter received this week by the state Department of Labor. Most of the related layoffs will take place in 2019, starting in the first quarter.

In May, Ohio-based Covia was created through the merger of fracking-materials maker Unimin Corp., which already operated at 258 Main, and Ohio-based sand-products specialist Fairmount Santrol.

“All affected employees have been made aware of these facts, and were made aware at least 60 days prior to any scheduled termination date, and will continue to receive wages and benefits through their exit dates, unless they voluntarily resign,” Jennifer Fox, Covia’s vice president of human resources, wrote in the letter to the Labor Department.

Covia did not immediately respond to a message Wednesday seeking clarification on whether any of the affected New Canaan workers might be transferred to the Ohio offices.

Covia employs more than 3,000 and operates more than 50 plants and 94 operating terminals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

When the merger was announced last year, Unimin and Fairmount said they would combine to become the largest seller of “proppants” used in the fracking process. The technique extracts additional fuels from underground wells by injecting masses of mineral solutions. The process has attracted major opposition for allegedly tainting water supplies and affecting seismic activity.

Unimin sells UniFrac, a hydraulic fracking sand it touts as having greater purity and uniformity to better hold up during fracking. The firm also sells minerals for a range of industrial customers in glass, coatings, ceramics and metals markets.

The Unimin portfolio also included the Winchester & Western railroad line operating in New Jersey and West Virginia.

Since the merger, New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Moynihan has participated in discussions for the town to possibly buy Covia’s 258 Main building for a proposed complex to house police and school officials.

Amid the looming layoffs, New Canaan continues to post one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. In October, its residents had an unadjusted jobless level of 3.1 percent, compared with an unadjusted statewide average of 3.8 percent.

Includes previous reporting from Alexander Soule.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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