Lincoln County Treasurer Jerry Greenfield and TriSite President Brad Barham is hopeful the company has a bright future for both coal and the community.
Greenfield has helped lead the way on the effort to look at coal-to-products. The county treasurer worked with commissioners and the future did not look great without the resource.
“It was more of an act of desperation,” Greenfield said. “It looked pretty bleak and that’s when we decided there had to be something else we could do with coal.”
He says he worked with scientists to find solutions because he feared Kemmerer would have eventually turned into a “ghost town”. He says Barham decided he wanted to help lead the group and started talking with the other scientists to come up with some ideas how to still use coal. He acknowledges this situation came about before the TerraPower announcements came.
“If nuclear had been here, it would have been a little bit different story,” Greenfield said. “We wouldn’t have been quite so desperate.”
Barham says the Lincoln County Treasurer is “the genesis” for TriSite. He says the company joined the effort to find solutions on coal. Both acknowledge that so far, they have found success, but that will not stop them from further exploration.
“We’re going to be on a continual search for technologies around the world we’re bringing here,” Barham said. “That can convert coal in a very eco-friendly way.”
He says the first product they will look to get on the market is humic fulvic acid. He says this is the “magic sauce” nature uses to generate new life.
“If you think about what coal is, it’s millions of years of layers of soil with all sorts of minerals and elements,” Barham said. “We put those back into the soil.”
So, he says this will be an agricultural item that enrichens the soil. He says they have done a lot of research and says the results have been positive when you put these acids into the ground. He also says this is different than a fertilizer.
“It’s a supplement,” Barham said. “Like when you take vitamins for your body, it’s like that.”
He says when the item first becomes available, it will be for retail use, but they plan on extending that into commercial areas as well.
He says this can create plenty of jobs for south Lincoln County. He says in the first year or two, as they are configuring the technology, there will be around 50 jobs they will look to fill.
“But in phase one, we are growing to 325 new employees,” Barham said. “Once we go full build, it’s going to cross over 1,000 employees.”
He says these will be good paying with good benefits. The TriSite president has managed other companies and he says employees are your number one asset.
“We want them to be richly rewarded,” Barham said. “And honored for all that they do.”
He also says the company has broken ground on its new site which will be near the mine. There is also a testing and research center up in northern Wyoming.
Greenfield says this really helps with the future out look of the county. He says the way the mineral severance tax works is it is based on a tonnage weight. He says it about $50-$60 per ton. He says this is based on burning of coal though and so he is working with state legislators to update that to include products.
“That would generate a lot more revenue,” Greenfield said.
He says they will keep looking at opportunities for both the burning of coal and the conversion to products as ways to keep funding coming in. Barham says you can check for further updates once their website goes live as well.