Money in the sand?

2012-11-24T07:00:00Z 2014-01-11T14:17:30Z Money in the sand?By Gail Elber, The World Coos Bay World
November 24, 2012 7:00 am  • 

COOS BAY -- An Ashland-based development company hopes to mine sand on a 69-acre property west of Kmart on Ocean Boulevard and build a 500-unit housing development there when the mining is done.

Ocean Grove Development Group LLC is seeking proposals from contractors to extract and sell sand.

The company estimates that 3.5-4 million cubic yards of sand could be removed from the site, flattening it to the level of the nearby Kmart site.

Once the sand is removed, the company hopes to build 500 units of housing on the property, intended to serve people employed in an industrial renaissance the company says it foresees in Coos Bay.

'Extensive investment from the Department of Homeland Security, multiple publicly traded corporations, private investors and speculators have come together to create a new infrastructure of increased output in several industry sectors over the next one to five years," says a statement on the company's website.

'Coos Bay's location in tandem with the multi-billion dollar infrastructure upgrades will establish the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay as a strategic US energy transportation center. The City's expansion plans are to transition into new marine and industrial activities with a goal of making Coos Bay a top 50 U.S. port in total cargo volume. This is expected to attract a broad range of industries that benefit from proximity to a major logistics hub."

The company's CEO is Brian Barbuto, a California real estate developer. The group registered as an LLC in Oregon in August.

A company representative said all the company's officials were vacationing this week and were unavailable for comment.

Sand in demand

Although the company's website says sand is in demand nationwide, local contractors haven't yet been able to sell sand out of the area.

Different sands are used for different purposes, depending on their mineral content and the shape and size of their grains.

The rise of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a technique for increasing the production of gas wells in many parts of the country has created a demand for suitable sand, drawing it away from other uses.

In fracking, sand serves as a 'proppant." Sand and water are pumped into a gas-producing rock formation under high pressure. The pressure creates fissures in the rock that liberate gas, and the sand grains prop the fissures open after the water is pumped away.

Not all sand is suitable for fracking. Frac sand mining has taken off in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where much of the sand is suitable for fracking, but has itself created controversy in those areas because of concerns about silica dust.

A document from the Wisconsin Towns Association said drillers pay $125-$350 per ton for frac sand, depending on how far the sand has been hauled and how much moisture it contains.

In addition to fracking, Ocean Grove claimed that proposed infrastructure projects in the Northwest, including the proposed Columbia River Crossing in Portland and the proposed shipping terminal on Coos Bay, will increase the market for sand. Sand also will be needed to replenish beaches destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, it said.

But so far, local sand miners haven't been able to cash in on demand elsewhere, said Marci Goodrich, a project estimator with Benny Hempstead Excavating in Coos Bay, which has a sand pit on the North Spit.

'Everybody wants to," said Goodrich. Pit owners have their sand tested to see if it's suitable for certain applications, such as making glass or fracking.

But so far, companies with sand pits have sold sand strictly for local construction, she said.

Reporter Gail Elber can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 234, or at gelber@

Copyright 2015 Coos Bay World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. penelop
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    penelop - December 04, 2012 9:30 pm
    My oh my, another business coming into town promising jobs, jobs, jobs! And THIS one is going to build 500 housing units based on the fact that we're on the cusp of a renaissance of manufacturing in this area. And I have a bridge in Florida I'd like to sell you. But wait, go to the website of this Ocean Grove and see how many local companies are on board. They're all listed on the bottom of their webpage. How many behind-the-doors agreements have been made? Hello, ORC? Suckers!
  2. Reston
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    Reston - December 04, 2012 10:46 am
    Developer Brian Barbuto apparently was in an old L.A. Times story about alleged land speculators: "...Smith said the fact that Dipple and Barbuto were trying to sell the land for nearly twice the price they were paying [the city of] Pomona confirms her suspicions that the deal was a bad one from the beginning."
    Mr. Barbuto's web site is worth a gander too: "...OGDG will work with the city of Coos Bay to become an important asset to the community." Maybe he learned a lesson back in Pomona ;o)
  3. Reston
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    Reston - December 04, 2012 10:20 am
    Follow the $$:
    It appears that the developers can tell investors that the sand is worth between $590 million and $1.7 billion; quite a tidy sum! The housing complex may just be a red herring ;o)

    Do the math:: According to #s cited in the story and using wiki answers and online for the weight of a cubic yard of dry sand (1.35 tons per cu yd), at a price range of $125 to $350 per ton, the going rate for some 3.5 to 4 million cubic yards of sand is $590,625,000 to $1,653,750,000.
  4. bes
    Report Abuse
    bes - November 30, 2012 4:16 pm
    I wonder what reality some of us want. Do we want healthy community based small business with real people making decisions about our area for it's residents, or do we want corporate exploitation and pollution that leave us cold after they get their needs met. Things can grow and prosper but not if we let big investors take us for a ride. Let's concentrate on healthy realities to sustain our future, and not all be at the hospital getting over whatever poison they just threw at us. No fracking.
  5. Dr Van Nostrand
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    Dr Van Nostrand - November 30, 2012 11:21 am
    The Citizens Against Virtually Everything will be out in force against this one. To think that a business would try to sell sand (a rare commodity around here) and build a nice place to live for people coming here to work? The horror!
  6. Dr Van Nostrand
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    Dr Van Nostrand - November 30, 2012 11:17 am
    bes, you are obviously out of touch with reality. Go back to your CAVE.
  7. deception
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    deception - November 29, 2012 9:43 pm
    good luck
  8. bes
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    bes - November 29, 2012 6:51 pm
    Sand for fracking is not acceptable. There will be repercussions.
  9. ladthebad
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    ladthebad - November 29, 2012 11:03 am
    Site states the following: Ocean Grove will offer a high quality life-style in a desirable and affordable range of price points. Development plans includes live-work spaces with vital shops, restaurants and services, all accessible within a walk or bike ride by Ocean Grove residents. A landscaped green belt surrounding the residential community ensures places to recreate while community spaces such as an outdoor amphitheater, and picnic area with built in barbeques enhance events and gatherings.
  10. JP
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    JP - November 28, 2012 9:48 pm
    I wonder how this type of housing complex will effect the many residential and buisness values in the area? Will it just be more low income units?
  11. JVW
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    JVW - November 24, 2012 12:19 pm
    I would hate to see our sand used for fracking as I believe fracking will destroy the country's water supply. It won't matter how much oil or gas we have if there is no potable water.
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