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Spiritwood soybean plant construction could begin in early 2019

SPIRITWOOD, N.D. — Construction of the North Dakota Soybean Processors crushing plant could begin in the first months of 2019, according to Scott Austin, CEO of North Dakota Soybean Processors.

Austin said in emails Tuesday that the company is planning to close the equity drive portion of the project before the end of 2018 and would then start construction in the middle of the first quarter of 2019.

The North Dakota Soybean Processors crushing plant was announced on Feb. 7, 2017, by Gov. Doug Burgum. The project is planned for a 150-acre site north of Dakota Spirit AgEnergy in the Spiritwood Energy Park Association industrial park at Spiritwood. It will share rail facilities with Dakota Spirit and receive steam energy from Great River Energy's coal-fired Spiritwood Station.

The industrial park is a partnership between the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and Great River Energy.

Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said JSDC owns the land planned for the soybean processing plant and is completing the process of transferring ownership of the land to SEPA.

"The transfer will increase the ownership share of SEPA owned by the JSDC," Ova said.

The legal process of transferring the land began in July 2017 but was halted pending completion of the equity drive by North Dakota Soybean Processors, Ova said.

Preliminary specifications released in 2017 placed the plant's processing capacity at 42.5 million bushels per year. The plant originally had an estimated cost of $287 million and will employ between 55 and 60 workers.

Ova said North Dakota Soybean Processors was continuing to negotiate with a third-party company to process the soy oil into biodiesel. Details of those discussions have not been released.

Originally, North Dakota Soybean Processors set a financing goal of $60 million in individual and institutional investments by March 31. The deadline was extended to the end of this year.

Additional funding for the project will come from $66 million in investments by Minnesota Soybean Processors and loans.

"This is sounding good," Ova said. "It always was moving ahead, just a lot slower than we had hoped."

Austin said plant construction is estimated at 20 months with completion of the plant and processing of soybeans slated for the fall of 2020.