ALABASTER Twp. – Due to limited reserves of gypsum rock, the USG quarry in Alabaster Township will decrease production over the next two months.

As a result, layoffs are possible for some of the 23 current employees. According to USG Plant Manager Matt Craig, it is estimated that there are 12 workers in total who will be affected.

Craig noted at press time that no layoffs have occurred just yet but, when this does happen, options are being explored for the impacted employees to transfer to other USG facilities in the meantime.

Further, he advised that any layoffs are likely to cease by the end of September and he stressed that USG is not shutting down, but is slowing down. “We are still here.”

The Alabaster operation produced 420,000 tons of native gypsum last year, serving USG’s plant in River Rouge, as well as local cement companies, agriculture customers and others around the region. 

“This is just a matter of timing. Simply put, the quarry is running out of gypsum faster than we’d anticipated, and we must slow production while we work to get the next quarry permitted and operating,” says Craig.

The quarry will continue operating at a reduced level to provide gypsum to the USG plant near Detroit. It will serve other local customers through approximately October. USG has operated the Alabaster quarry since the company was formed in 1902. Last year, USG purchased additional land to expand its quarry operations. That expansion is still planned but must first go through an extensive process to receive permits and construct the new quarry.

“We don’t like reducing production or limiting our customer service, but this decision allows us to continue limited production at Alabaster while we work through the process of opening the future quarry,” Craig says.

As previously reported, it was in the fall of 2018 when USG  completed its agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to purchase 580 acres of land adjacent to its current gypsum quarry for $3.45 million.

According to those from the company, gypsum from USG’s Alabaster site supports large manufacturers and farms around the state, as well as its own manufacturing operations.

“USG is one of the state’s longest-running businesses, and this agreement allows us to keep producing an important raw material for Michigan’s economy and supporting the DNR’s conservation priorities,” Craig stated at the time. “Expanding our quarry ensures we can continue supporting the people, resources and businesses in Michigan for years to come. We are proud to say that we started here, and we are staying here.”