Sunday, December 30, 2012

Arizona frac sand production increasing

The Arizona Journal newspaper in Holbrook reports that Preferred Sands, a frac sand and proppant company that purchased a sand mining business near Sanders in 2011, expanded its operations, and is on track to mine 1.3 million tons of sand in 2012 and 1.8 million tons in 2013. The company claimed a reserve of 130 million tons at the Sanders site and potential to mine 2 million tons per year.  Frac sands and proppants are used to prop open fractures in rocks underground to enhance oil and gas production, following hydraulic fracturing of the rocks.

AZGS Chief Geologist Jon Spencer  says the Google Earth representation of the ADMMR 2007 “Directory of Active Mines in Arizona” shows three quarries near Sanders. These are the “Houck Silica Sand Pit” north of I-40 and the “Cheto Mine 1” and “Cheto 2” pits south of I-40. All of these appear to be located in the Miocene to Pliocene Bidahochi Formation. The Bidahochi Formation is better known around Hopi Buttes to the northwest, where it includes lake beds and volcanic rocks.  He doesn’t know of any detailed studies of the Bidahochi Formation in the Sanders area except for Kiersch & Keller paper (see below). His guess is that the sand pits are located in eolian sands in the Bidahochi Formation.[Right, Sanders and quarries to the east.  Credit, Google Maps]


Preferred Sands apparently operates on Din’e Be keyah (Navajo land), where they developed "the first green resin-coated product."   The say "Preferred’s products generate significantly less dust, and have no phenol, hexamethylenetetramine, or formaldehyde leaching even under the most extreme down-well conditions, preventing undesired reactions with frac fluids in the well."
The company expects to open resin plant the Sanders location in 2013. "The plant has an advanced rail load-out system, quadrupling a traditional load-out pace. Our Sanders plant is unit train accessible and directly serviced by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad."
Ref: BLEACHING CLAY DEPOSITS, SANDERS-DEFIANCE PLATEAU DISTRICT, NAVAJO COUNTRY, ARIZONA, by GEO. A. KIERSCH AND W. D. KELLER, Economic Geology, v.50, pp. 469-494


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