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Top 10 stories of 2016: Depressed oil prices hit sand mines

Fairmount Santrol’s Maiden Rock facility was one of dozens of industrial sand mining and processing sites in western Wisconsin. On Thursday, April 14 it was announced that this facility would see 39 employee lay-offs. (File photo by Pauline Gullickson)

MAIDEN ROCK -- Fairmount Santrol announced Thursday, April 14 that approximately 55 workers at three sand facilities in Wisconsin -- Hager City, Maiden Rock and Menomonie -- would be laid off effective immediately.

“The layoffs are due to organizational restructuring and a reduction in business operations as a result of the ongoing downturn in the oil and gas industry,” said Fairmount Santrol media contact Kristin Lewis. “The announcement reflects Fairmount Santrol’s ongoing efforts to manage through the downcycle in the oil and gas market by consolidating its operational footprint, improving efficiency and reducing costs throughout its operations. Fairmount Santrol remains committed to helping its customers succeed, and is commercially well-positioned to compete within current market conditions and build toward the future.”

Sand from the local mines is used in extracting crude oil.

A press release from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development said the duration of the layoffs is unknown, that they may be permanent. As of Jan. 2, the layoffs were still in force.

Seven salaried and 48 hourly positions were laid off. Employees were notified April 14.

The hourly employees were told not to return to work after April 14; salaried employees were “asked to return for a brief transitional period” Monday, April 18, after which their layoffs would begin.

“The Company is working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations, and is committed to helping employees through this transition,” Lewis said in an email in April. “Consistent with its strong commitment to all three pillars of sustainable development, People, Planet and Prosperity, Fairmount Santrol is also in the process of contacting local community leaders and organizations in Wisconsin.”

The company had promised all laid-off employees would be paid all earned wages and benefits through June 13.

Three positions were cut from the Hager City/Bay City location; 39 from Maiden Rock and 13 from Menomonie.

Fairmount Santrol is headquartered in Chardon, Ohio with operations all over the United States, Denmark, China and Mexico.

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Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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