As frac sand mines begin to crop up around the Permian Basin — particularly around Monahans, Kermit and Wink — operators are advised to start thinking like oil and gas operators.

“I think mining companies should fol- low the E&P example,” said Ben “Bud” Brigham, chairman and investing founder of Atlas Sand Co. LLC. The company is in the process of building plants at Kermit, expected to be in operation in the second quarter, and Monahans, expected to be in operation in the third quarter. Each facil- ity, which operate 24/7, is expected to em- ploy at least 70 people. He called the jobs well-paying and stable and said he hopes to hire a number of military veterans.

With at least 11 companies building mines, Brigham said the market will have to become educated on the quality of the reserves.

“Like with oil and gas: There’s tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4,” he said.

He thinks demand for frac sand will be sufficient to take all the sand supplied by the in-basin plants and still not displace the higher-cost sand coming in from else- where. But “as with oil and gas, there will be winners and losers.”

Until now, Brigham has spent his career in the exploration and production side of the industry. He founded Brigham Exploration, which sold to Statoil in 2011 for $4.7 billion, and Brigham Resources, which was sold to Diamondback Energy in early 2017 for $2.55 billion.

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