Photographer: Rachel Woolf/Bloomberg

Miner Sibelco Weighs Acquisition of Fairmount Santrol

Updated on
  • Sibelco may seek to reverse list Unimin unit into Fairmount
  • Fairmount Santrol shares are down 63 percent this year

Belgian mining firm SCR-Sibelco NV is considering an acquisition of Fairmount Santrol Holdings Inc. after the U.S. frack sand miner lost more than half its market value this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sibelco recently made an approach to Fairmount, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. One of the options that the Belgian firm is considering would be to reverse list its U.S. division, Unimin Corp., into Ohio-based Fairmount, one of the people said. No final agreements have been reached and the discussions may not result in a deal, the people said.

Fairmount Santrol shares rose as much as 12 percent to $5.10 Tuesday after being temporarily halted in New York, valuing the company at about $1.1 billion. The stock fell about 61 percent this year through Monday.

Representatives for Fairmount Santrol and Sibelco declined to comment.

Once the darlings of the early stages of a shale recovery, sand companies have tumbled amid a drop in exploration expenditure and after U.S. Silica Holdings Inc., the largest publicly traded provider of frack sand, said that it aims to double its total supply over the next year to 18 months. Sibelco’s Unimin is among the largest producers of frack sand in the world, according to its website.

Hydraulic fracturing -- a mining technique known as fracking -- blasts water, sand and chemicals underground to release trapped hydrocarbons.

Sibelco, founded in 1872, initially supplied silica sand to Belgium’s major glass producers.

— With assistance by David Wethe, and John Martens

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