South Dakota sand may wind up helping power North Dakota’s Bakken shale oil boom, after all.
A new company, South Dakota Proppants, or SDP, wants to mine sand in the Black Hills to be used in the oil-recovery process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Patric Galvin, president of SDP, says his company has located sand of the specific quality necessary to be used for fracking. That proposed mine is found about 15 miles southwest of Hill City, according to Galvin. The company has secured 1,750 acres worth of claims in that spot, he said.
The mine could make up to $65 million per year in revenue and sustain between 250 and 300 workers, he said.
Many of those jobs will come in the form of trucking jobs, which Galvin touts as one of the mine’s advantages over other places that produce fracking sand, like Wisconsin.
“We can ship from the mine to the wellpad without using any rail,” he said.
Galvin’s plans come on the heels of a state report this year that didn’t find any suitable sand in South Dakota that could be used in the fracking process.
But Mike Cepak, an engineering manager with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said Galvin mailed his own sand samples to the state. Upon studying them, the state agreed the samples were of high enough quality to be used for fracking.
The proposed mine would have to get permission from the state Board of Minerals and Environment, as well as water permits through the state Water Management Board, according to Cepak.
“If they were getting a start on it right now, I would say it would take them about two years,” said Cepak, who handles mine permitting applications for the DENR.
Charmaine White Face, a coordinator of Defenders of the Black Hills, said her organization does not support any mining there.
“As all of the Black Hills are sacred, there is no place where mining should be allowed,” White Face wrote in an email. “This also applies to all and any kind of disturbance in the Black Hills.”
Galvin said he hasn’t spoken to any of the tribes yet, but the company plans to do so.
“We do need to end up having a discussion with them,” Galvin said. “But I don’t think that’s going to cause an issue for them.”