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Frac company to start site work next month

NATCHEZ — One of the companies that announced a fracking-supply partnership in Adams County last week will begin construction of its plant in early May.

Magnolia Frac Sand LLC, which is affiliated with the Blain Companies, will start site work at the plant site next month, with construction expected to be completed and production beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, President Lee Stevens said.

The plant will be located on State Park Road near the extant W.E. Blain asphalt plant.

As the construction progresses, the company will start hiring its 30 workers, hiring a couple of managerial positions followed by equipment operators and then laborers, Stevens said.

When the company starts hiring, information will be available through the Winn Job Centers.

Magnolia Frac Sand will produce sand used in hydraulic fracking, a process in which water, sand and chemicals are used to create stress fractures in subterranean rock to release trapped natural gas or oil.

A partner company, Fores Frac Sand LLC, will move the sand out of the Miss-Lou and into the petroleum production market.

“We are going to be mining sand, we are going to be taking that sand and we are going to be drying it and sizing it and storing it,” Stevens said. “Fores will be taking it then and marketing and selling and handling the logistics of where it is going.”

The drying process Magnolia will use is a gas-fired one, Stevens said, and the sizing of the sand will be done using a screening process to ensure that the sand meets industry standards. The storage of the product will be done onsite in silos.

A second Fores company, Fores Resin Coating LLC, will further process some of the frack sand and place a resin coating on it as it can be used at higher pressures and deeper depths. That company is slated to begin work sometime next year.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said the local recruiting effort to help the partnership come together was an ongoing process for approximately 10 months.

That included ensuring the proper infrastructure was in place.

“We ran through several items, including working through some gas (transmission) issues and other items that were a little time consuming, but we got through them,” he said.

Stevens said Blain had been looking for a partner like Fores, which already knows how the petroleum industry works, for some time before that.

“We have been researching probably for three years about the frack sand industry and businesses,” Stevens said.

“Blain was out looking for a partner like Fores who was diverse in the petrol industry to begin with, and had contacts in the petroleum industry and already knew about the sales end of it — they are already selling product in that industry.

“We ended up running across Fores, and they ended up running across us — they were looking for someone like us at the same time — and we started talking.”

The Mississippi Development Authority is providing $264,000 for upgrades to rail services and $250,000 for upgrades to an existing access road at the Natchez-Adams County Port, from which much of the frack sand will be shipped, as a part of the industrial recruitment package.

Adams County is also providing a 10-percent match for engineering fees for the development of the project and has offered the partnership a tax abatement package as well.

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