Mining for the Perfect Site

In western Oklahoma, a new transload facility is bringing opportunity to the community of Erick in a deal that brought together the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Badger Mining Corporation of Wisconsin. Badger Mining Corporation (BMC) announced in October 2015 the opening of a fully-owned and operated transload facility in Erick. The new location joins several distribution sites for BMC and will primarily serve the Anadarko Basin.

“This is a project we worked on for several years,” says James Johnson, director of programs, Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “As a mining company, Badger processes and specializes in sand for the oil and gas industry. The sand comes in from Wisconsin, and is shipped by rail to locations.”

When approached, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce was able to facilitate a site for BMC in the area of western Oklahoma the company was seeking.

“It was ready to go for their processing and distribution site,” says Johnson. “There is less of a population in western Oklahoma. BMC’s new location represents a significant investment in Oklahoma and showcases just one of many opportunities for manufacturing in our state.”

A Perfect Site
Badger Mining Corporation began in 1949 as a single sand mining operation near Fairwater, Wisconsin. In 1979, a new partnership was formed and incorporated as Badger Mining. In 2015, Atlas Resin Proppants merged into Badger Mining Corporation, introducing resin coated sand into Badger Mining’s product portfolio. Erick is the latest transload facility owned by the company, which also has transload facilities in George West, Texas, and throughout North America.

“The first discussions about the property with the State of Oklahoma Department of Commerce were in March of 2013,” says Nick Bartol, public relations associate, BMC.

Steve Banker, logistics development manager, BMC, says identifying a location for a new site was the first priority.

“The Department of Commerce was great to work with in contacting local communities. They also attended local boards and meetings with us, and they were a great ally in the process,” says Banker.

Those discussions continued with the Department of Commerce, as well as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration, and Farmrail, the shortline railroad the site sits on, as this group worked together with the goal of securing a federal TIGER Grant to rehabilitate the 12 miles of track between Sayre and Erick. The $2.5 million federal TIGER grant was awarded on the heels of another TIGER grant issued in 2013 for the rehabilitation of lines between Elk City and Sayre to ensure safe transit of crude oil.

“We got first word in September of 2013 that the federal government had given tentative approval of the Tiger Grant. Official approval of the grant then happened in 2014,” says Bartol. “From the first discussions about the property to securing the federal Tiger Grant, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce was an incredibly helpful partner as we worked through this process.”

After approval of the Tiger Grant, BMC’s focus turned to the property.

“This included rezoning the property, and an aspect very important to our company — going door to door and meeting all the neighbors of the property and explaining our plan,” Bartol says. “We also had two dinners and presentations at the local restaurant in Erick to meet other townspeople and go over our ideas for the project with them.”

The rehabilitation of the railroad from Sayre to Erick was completed in August of 2015. Construction of the site began in March 2015, and BMC plans a completion date around April 1.

“Our investment in Erick, Oklahoma, will help our customers cut cost, but it will do so much more in terms of service quality and safety,” says Adam Katz, vice president of sales and marketing. “The biggest risk we take as an industry occurs every time we get behind the wheel. Getting closer to the wellhead means fewer trucks spending less time on the road, which is a big win for everybody.”

Behind the Scenes
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce was instrumental in not only identifying a prospective site in western Oklahoma, but also for securing the land once identified. The rehabilitation of the 12 miles of dormant track between Sayre and Erick began almost three years ago after BMC acquired the 140-acre complex for the distribution of raw and coated frac sand throughout the Anadarko Basin. The site was actually located on farmland, so we had it rezoned to industrial, and it just happened to be alongside a railroad track, which was our main need,” says Banker.

BMC estimates the new operation will accommodate up to 160 rail cars a month with a second phase of development including vertical storage and loading platforms.

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