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North Dakota may have the oil, but South Dakota could have the fracking sand that makes the Bakken oil boom possible.

A new company wants to mine sand in the Black Hills that could be used in the hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking, that has unleashed oil trapped in the Bakken shale formation.

South Dakota Proppants says it has found sand deposits about 15 miles southwest of Hill City that it says is of sufficient quality to be used in the fracking process. And because the proposed mine’s location is close to the Bakken oil fields, it would give SDP an advantage over competitors.

The company has secured 1,750 acres of claims in the area it wants to mine. According to Patric Galvin, president of SDP, the mine could provide up to 300 jobs and earn about $65 million in annual revenue. Most of the jobs would come from transporting the sand to well sites.

A state report earlier this year said South Dakota didn’t have sand deposits that could be used in the fracking process, but the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the samples it received from SDP were capable of being used in hydraulic fracturing.

The fracking process uses sand in solution that is injected under pressure to fracture the rock in an oil-bearing formation to improve its permeability to extract oil.

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Although the fracking wouldn’t occur in South Dakota, a possible surface mine in the Black Hills would have opposition from groups that oppose any mining in the Hills.

The company would have to get an operating permit from the state Board of Minerals and Environment and water permits from the state Water Management Board, a process that could take at least two years. The permitting boards won’t have reasons to deny the permits if the company meets the requirements set by the state.

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The estimated jobs and annual revenues of the proposed sand mine compares favorably with the more controversial proposed Powertech in situ uranium mine near Edgemont.

Economic development officials said they hoped the Bakken oil boom could spin off into business opportunities in the Black Hills, and what SDP proposes is just such an opportunity. No one was interested in the sand deposits near Hill City until SDP offered to mine the sand and use it in the Bakken oil fields and possibly other fields.

South Dakota Proppants’ proposed mine is a long way from approval and longer still from actual operation, but the jobs and revenues it promises to deliver are encouraging.

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