The North Dakota State Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks is set for another expansion that will significantly increase its capacity.

On Oct. 22, the Industrial Commission of North Dakota approved a $23.5 million plan to purchase a 6,000 hundredweight durum mill and a 4,000 hundredweight spring wheat mill. The durum mill the facility now uses will be converted to a spring wheat mill. Vance Taylor, president and CEO, said the new mills are necessary to keep up with customer demand. Taylor said the project should be completed in the summer of 2021.

“We're really excited about it,” Taylor said. “The Industrial Commission is saying it's a win-win, and I have to add that we're excited to grow the business and also to increase demand for producers across North Dakota.”

The Industrial Commission is made up of Gov. Doug Burgum, Wayne Stenehjem, attorney general, and Doug Goehring, agriculture commissioner.

The addition of the equipment will increase the mill’s grinding capacity to 40 million bushels per year, from its current 34 million bushels. In terms of daily operations, production will jump from 49,500 hundredweights of ground product per day to 60,500 hundredweights. At present, the facility has eight milling units.

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The mill produces flour and semolina from spring wheat and durum wheat, and 80% of those products is shipped in bulk by rail and truck. The remainder is packaged in 5- to 100-pound bags before shipping. The mill also produces mixes for pancakes and bread machines.

Staffing levels at the mill will likely stay the same once the equipment is purchased and installed, as the machinery is largely automated, Taylor said.

The plan to add two new mills comes a little over a year after the ground was laid for it with the mill’s recently completed rail spur and expanded storage project. In August 2019, work was completed on an 18,000-foot train track located on the west side of Mill Road. The track can accommodate 110-car “shuttle trains,” which can unload at the mill when necessary. The track was needed as officials at the mill looked to take in more wheat from the western part of the state. Four new grain bins added around that time allow for 1 million bushels of storage capacity.

“That gave us the infrastructure to support additional milling capacity,” Taylor said.