Alliance plant should open soon

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jacque Ballay, vice president in charge of marketing and sales for Alliance, which is installing a major industrial sand-production plant here that will cater to the oil drilling industry, said company officials are eyeing an August start-up.

Ballay said that the plant, which covers a huge expanse of land between Picayune and Nicholson on the west side of the railway tracks, represents a $30 million investment in Pearl River County by the company.

The plant recently hired 50 workers to run the operation, and all the jobs are paying solid wages. Ballay said the plant might initiate another round of hiring based on the demands of the market, when the company begins production.

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“Depending on what our orders are, we have plans for expanding the facility, and that would entail hiring more employees,” said Ballay, whose headquarters is in New Orleans. Phase Two plans call for installing another drier, he said.

When the plant cranks up, it will be able to handle a maximum of 200 truckloads of sand per day, based on demand for the product, said Ballay.

The plant will process the sand, which will be mined from local and area pits, producing a fine sand for the oil drilling industry. It will then be shipped out of Picayune to locations throughout the U.S. by truck and rail.

The plant is situated along nearly a half-mile to mile stretch of the Norfolk-Southern rail, immediately south of Picayune and its industrial park.

Also used in the process will be huge volumes of natural gas that the company plans to purchase from the city. The City of Picayune pipes in natural gas and sells it mostly to residents and small commercial firms, and has been hoping for a long time to land an industry that would use large volumes of natural gas.

“We are grateful that Alliance chose Picayune, and we welcome them here,” said Mayor Ed Pinero, Jr.

Crosby Chemical and Arizona Chemical used to use large volumes of gas purchased from the city utility department, but those two companies no longer exists.

The company is strictly business. It had its permits all in order and came in without a formal announcement and began construction on the plant.

A jobs fair shortly after construction began, offering good-paying jobs to locals, caught citizens’ attention and hundreds of people turned out trying to land the jobs here.

The vast majority of comments have been positive, and the fact that the plant will emit no pollution is a plus, too, for the company and the City of Picayune. The product is pure sand.

The company held a jobs’ fair March 30-31 at Picayune City Hall and hired approximately 50 persons to fill jobs ranging from plant manager to laboratory manager, production supervisors, instrumentation-electrical technicians, DCS operators, outside unit operation-mechanics, laboratory technicians, rail-truck loaders, equipment operators, front office secretaries, logistics secretary and laboratory secretary.

The facility is officially called the “Picayune Sand Drying Facility” and covers approximately 30 acres between the southern city limits and Holcomb’s Railway Crossing near Nicholson, on the western side of the Norfolk-Southern railway.