U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. has received approval from the town of Fairchild, WI, to begin development of a 3 million ton/year hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sand mine and plant, which would deliver product to operators via Union Pacific Railroad.

The plant would produce Northern White fracking sand, abundant in Wisconsin. The facility could be operational by the end of 2015. No financial details were disclosed.

“We had tremendous input from the community in helping develop a project,” said CEO Bryan Shinn. “This is an important step in our plan to bring on additional new capacity to meet customers’ rapidly growing needs for high-quality, Northern White frack sand in all of the major shale basins in the U.S.”

The Frederick, MD-based operator is one of the nation’s largest producers of commercial silica, a specialized mineral used in fracking proppants. It has over the past couple of years made a big foray into the unconventional oil and gas business. U.S. Silica already has six oil and gas silica plants in Ottawa and Rochelle, IL; Rockwood, MI; Pacific, MO; Mill Creek, OK; and Sparta, WI.

In February, the company and Union Pacific struck a deal to build a Permian Basin rail-accessible silica sand storage facility in Odessa, TX (see Shale Daily, Feb. 12). The 20,000-ton sand storage facility should be operational by the end of this year. Two years ago U.S. Silica partnered with S.H. Bell Co. to build a facility in Liverpool, OH to serve Appalachia operators and with BNSF Railway to build sand storage facilities in San Antonio for Eagle Ford Shale operators (see Shale Daily, Oct. 11, 2012; June 22, 2012).