Is South Dakota Next Bakken Frack Sand Supplier?

By The Bakken magazine staff | August 15, 2014

A South Dakota mine could provide a cheaper, more convenient source of fracking sand to the Bakken oil patch within the next two years.

According to Patric Galvin, South Dakota Proppants, LLC president, Evergreen, Colo., his firm plans to open a mining operation in the Black Hills south of Hill City, S.D. The company has claim to 1,750 acres that contain more than 250 million tons of high-grade fracking sand, he says.

Much of the sand used as a fracking proppant now comes from mines in Wisconsin. What could make SDP’s sand more attractive to producers in the Bakken is Galvin’s plan to truck the sand directly from the mine to well sites in North Dakota.

“We can avoid putting it on a train, saving $30 to $50 a ton delivered cost,” he explains. “Were it not for our geographical location, I wouldn’t do this, but it gives us a competitive advantage.”

Galvin estimates the mine could produce a million tons of fracking sand a year at $40 to $50 per ton. SDP will spend up to $6 million obtaining a mine permit and another $60 million to construct a processing facility.

Earlier this year, a South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources study said that none of the 256 potential fracking sand samples from around the state it tested met the American Petroleum Institute specifications for natural proppants.

However, South Dakota State Geologist Derric Iles says an analysis of the sand from SDP’s proposed mining deposit by a reputable, independent lab confirmed that it met API standards for fracking sand. Iles notes that SDP has a long way to go before a mining permit is issued—including public hearings and a possible appeal process.