One of Wisconsin’s largest frac sand producers has reopened one mine while idling another.
Hi-Crush Partners said Thursday it had resumed operations at its facility in Whitehall, which was idled in September, and has stopped production at its plant about 30 miles away in Augusta.
The company said its “dedicated and experienced” workers in Augusta are moving to the Whitehall plant.
In a filing with the federal Securities Exchange Commission, CEO Robert Rasmus said the shift is a response to increased demand from gas and oil producers in the Northeast.
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Hi-Crush’s mines in Blair and Whitehall are served by the Canadian National Railway, which provides a connection to the Appalachian region.
The Augusta mine is on the Union Pacific rail line, which primarily serves oil fields in Texas, where new competition from local mines offering cheaper sand has hurt demand for higher quality “Northern White” sand from Wisconsin.
Hi-Crush operates four facilities in Wisconsin as well as a new mine in Texas.
Earlier this month the company lowered its fourth-quarter sales forecast and canceled dividend payments to shareholders as Rasmus warned “some headwinds may prove more persistent than previously anticipated, continuing the challenging environment for Northern White sand.”