Ports & Terminals

Cave City Sand To Build Private Port On Mississippi Near Ste. Genevieve

Cave City Sand is building a private port on the Mississippi River along with a proppant and industrial sand processing facility.

After two years of design, engineering and permitting, the company hopes to break ground this summer on its 780-acre site in Ste. Genevieve County, Mo., said Josh Lehde, chief executive officer.

The port will go up before the sand processing facility, due to market conditions and the overall project schedule, Lehde said. The green field site at Upper Mississippi Mile 135 has 1.6 miles of river frontage and permitted space for fleeting 50 barges. It will also include a dock and two 48-inch multi-directional conveyor belts for loading and unloading. The company is willing to build storage to suit tenants, Lehde said.

The complete design will accommodate a 100-car unit train on the BNSF main line with up to 600-railcar storage. The site also has direct access to Interstate 55 two miles away from the property entrance. I-55 is designated as a heavy haul zone from the facility all the way to St. Louis.

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Although construction uncertainties continue to exist with the outbreak of COVID-19, Lehde said the company hopes to get started this summer with adding mooring for the fleet, which should take four to nine months. It is estimated to take six to nine months for the dock and port, depending on river levels, he said.

Cave City Sand acquired the property six years ago and entered into an agreement with a private equity partner three years ago.

Once construction on the port is complete, Cave City Sand will turn its attention to building its new sand processing facility. Although the company has its own nearby mine that is part of the St. Peter Sandstone formation reserve, from which it originally hauled raw product, the sand processing facility in the planning stages now will allow it to ship in-basin, high quality, Tier 1 sand to fracking and industrial customers at an economical rate by barge, rail or truck.

Cave City Sand has its corporate headquarters in St. Louis. It built its Stonewall, Okla., entity, Pontotoc Sand, four years ago and expanded in 2018–19, now including business interests in Texas as well. It currently maintains a payroll of about 100 people. The new site, inclusive of the port and processing facility, should add about 80 more employees, Lehde said.

The Oklahoma mine currently puts out 1.5 million tons of proppant and industrial sand annually, with about 80 percent of the business consisting of frac sand. The Missouri facility has a projected output of 1.8 million tons a year, Lehde said.

“We think the port just fits in nicely with it, with everything we want to be doing with it,” he said.

Cave City Sand is just beginning its marketing effort, looking for tenants for the new port. Lehde sees the property as particularly attractive to those in the business of hauling grain, salt and fertilizers as well as other aggregate and sand suppliers.