Atlas Sand building conveyor belt to transport sand, clearing trucks off highways

Published: Jan. 8, 2020 at 6:45 PM CST
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One frack sand company is trying out a new way to make the Permian Basin highways safer.

Every day, truck drivers haul frack sand hundreds of miles all over the Permian Basin.

But now Atlas Sand is building a new system to transport their sand far from any roads.

Take a drive down just about any West Texas highway and it won’t take long to spot one of these bad boys.

“Some places that’s probably more than half of the traffic that you come across,” Sand Hauler Peter Macharia said. “But that’s just the nature of the place you’re in.”

Maybe so, but what if it wasn’t?

Atlas Sand is building a roughly 30-mile conveyor belt to send their sand directly from their Kermit plant to Southeast New Mexico.

That system would take thousands of 18-wheelers off the road, which the company said could really change the Permian Basin.

They said with traffic cut down there’d be much fewer car wrecks, less emissions blasted into the air and these well-worn roads could finally get some relief.

“We’re really excited about this project because it’s going to make West Texas and Southeast New Mexico a safer, clean and much more pleasant place to live and work.”

But then again, everything has a price.

Peter Macharia drives a sand hauler 200-300 hundred miles every day.

While he thinks the conveyor belt is a good idea, if it catches on to other frack sand companies he may be out of a job.

“I mean, we get it,” Macharia said. “You’re not always going to be driving trucks. So, it would nice if there was a way to transition some of us guys who do this for a living into whatever job of the future it is.”

Macharia doesn’t think he’ll have to ditch his truck anytime soon but…

“I guess sooner or later we’ll find out,” Macharia said.

Atlas Sand said while some driver jobs will be eliminated, employees will have a chance to learn new skills and find a different job within the company.