Hi-Crush idles Whitehall frac sand plant citing market softness

September 27, 2018

One of Wisconsin’s largest frac sand producers has idled one of its plants citing market conditions.

Hi-Crush Partners announced Wednesday that it had temporarily stopped dry plant operations at its facility in Whitehall in Trempealeau County, though the company says it will continue to run a wet plant and sell stockpiled sand at the site.

Hi-Crush did not say how many jobs were affected.

Chief financial officer Laura Fulton said in a statement that the decision “was driven by recent temporary softness” in frac sand demand.

Operations continue at Hi-Crush’s three other Wisconsin mines, and a new mine in Kermit, Texas, is operating “above its nameplate capacity,” according to the company.

The company said it still expects to sell 2.8 million to 3 million tons of sand in the third quarter and anticipates strong demand in 2019 for both Texas and Wisconsin sand.

Hi-Crush stock was down about 6 percent Wednesday morning.

In July Hi-Crush announced plans to expand production by more than 45 percent at its Monroe County mine.

About 10 million gallons of sludge were released from the Whitehall mine in May when workers drained a holding pond to rescue a miner whose bulldozer slid into the processing water.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources continues to monitor the environmental impact of the spill, which resulted in elevated levels of heavy metals and other contaminants in a tributary of the Trempealeau River.

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