By Green River Star staff
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
GREEN RIVER — Genesis Alkali’s plans to expand its existing Granger soda ash production facility are continuing to make progress, with the most recent development being the award of $665,000 through the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services’ Pre-Obligation Grant Program.
This grant provides funding to support training in maintenance and operations, safety, technology and engineering, according to a press release from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.
The Granger expansion project involves Genesis Alkali investing $350 million to expand the Granger facility and increase soda ash production by approximately 700,000 tons per year, which will more than double the capacity of the plant, according to Genesis Alkali’s director of communications, David Caplan.
“The expansion of the Granger facilities will utilize Genesis’ patented solution feed process technology that has been utilized at its Westvaco facility since 1995,” the press release initially announcing the expansion explained. “Following the expansion, we expect the Granger facility will be one of the lowest cost soda ash production facilities in the world.”
The project was first announced at the end of 2019, but work on the project was delayed for a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that work on the project has been moving forward, Genesis Alkali has hired and is training 120 employees to directly support the restart of the Granger facility and expansion.
“That’s a lot of jobs for this area,” Caplan said, explaining these jobs bring Genesis back up to nearly 1,000 employees, and adding that the 120 jobs are permanent positions.
These new employees will receive training on the new manufacturing equipment at the facility, according to the Department of Workforce Services press release.
Genesis Alkali is also training an additional 240 employees who will support its main production site and underground mine in Green River to ensure the site maintains essential technical skill sets, and it will apply for a Business Training Grant for each of the different training opportunities highlighted in its Pre-Obligation application as a way to access the pre-obligated funds.
The business training funds from the pre-obligation grant will be used to support training Granger employees; enhancing a leadership development program and rolling it out to each level of management, from the top down; and skill training miners, operators and mechanics. This training is slated to take place over the next several months, with an anticipated 363 trainees.
Shaye Moon, the business training and support program manager, said: “The Department of Workforce Services’ Workforce Development Training Fund is eager to partner with Genesis Alkali to further develop a skilled workforce in the mining, manufacturing and processing industries in Wyoming.”
“Genesis Alkali is grateful for the Pre-Obligation grant awarded by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services,” Vice President of Manufacturing Fred von Ahrens said. “Our training and development efforts have been taxed as a result of recruiting more than 300 employees in the last two years, driven by the pending start-up of our expanded Granger plant as well as the continued baby boomer retirement cycle.”
The Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition partnered with Genesis Alkali on the Granger expansion project and in applying for the pre-obligation grant.
“The Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition recognizes the importance of partnering with our industry leaders to help them be successful in having a trained and skilled workforce for current and future expansions,” Kayla McDonald, economic development specialist, said. “We value the relationship we have with Genesis Alkali and our Sweetwater County manufacturing and industrial partners, and we stand ready to assist in helping grow and train our county’s workforce through similar future partnerships.”