Material Handling for Frac Sand Mining

In our last blog we went over the basics of fraccing, a method for retrieving oil and gas reserves buried beneath shale rock. We also discussed the strict requirements on the sand used in this process, known as frac sand. With the growth of fraccing, frac sand mining has become an industry in itself. We provide conveying systems for frac sand mining companies, and they come with plenty of requirements of their own. Here’s a look at what goes into each of these systems.

1)      Sand is often mined as sandstones, which are simply rocks made up of millions of sand granules forced into a stone shape. As the first step in the system, these stones need to be crushed back down into sand granules.

2)      The sand is then washed so no dirt remains.

3)      Next, the sand is conveyed to driers where it is thoroughly dried.

4)      Afterwards, the sand is conveyed to a screening tower where it’s pushed through screens designed to allow only sand of the desired screen size to pass through. There are multiple screen sizes used, and we can provide screens for whatever size a company is looking for.

5)      The sand that does not make it through the screen must be conveyed back to a quarry.

6)      The sand that makes it through the screen must be conveyed either to a storage facility, or into railroad cars for transport to a fraccing facility.

The beauty of designing and building these conveying systems is that they’re nothing new to us. Here at Standley Batch, we’re known for constructing material handling systems for the concrete industry, so at first glance designing systems for frac sand might seem like something foreign. But concrete uses aggregate, cement and—you guessed it—sand. So in truth, we’ve been building systems to handle sand for over 70 years. We’re drawing on the same material handling experience, we’re just doing it for some new clients.

This allows us to draw on existing connections. If a company is storing their frac sand in steel silos, we can build those. But if the quantities they’re looking to house are large enough, they need to utilize a concrete dome. While we don’t make those ourselves, we have a long relationship with a company that does. We can point our frac sand mining customers to them, or we can work with them on our end. No matter who builds the storage facility, our systems will convey the sand to and from.

We’ve been hard at work designing quality material handling systems for the concrete industry for the better part of a century. Frac sand mining provides us with a new arena to apply our skills and experience, and we couldn’t be more excited.

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