JAMESTOWN, N.D. — The planned soybean crushing plant at Spiritwood, North Dakota, will be operated as a joint venture with the goal of producing renewable diesel fuel.

ADM, which has been the lead in the project, will own 75% of the planned $350 million plant while Marathon will have a 25% ownership, according to a Thursday, Aug. 19, announcement. The plans call for 100% of the soy oil produced at the plant in Spiritwood to be processed at Marathon's renewable diesel-fuel facility at Dickinson, North Dakota.

The project includes the demolition of a portion of the Cargill Malt plant at Spiritwood with the repurposing of the remaining facility as a $350 million soybean processing facility capable of handling 150,000 bushels per day.

Connie Ova, CEO of Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., said business connections between ADM and Marathon Petroleum had been widely suspected in the community, but this is the first announcement making the deal official, and the announcement confirmed that all of the soy oil produced at the Spiritwood facility would be processed into biodiesel.

Ova said the change in corporate structure for the plant will not change the incentive package offered by the JSDC and Stutsman County to the facility.

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ADM had received an economic incentive package of about $2.5 million from the JSDC and will make a payment in lieu of taxes of $225,000 for 15 years under an agreement with Stutsman County.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who has been a cheerleader for the project, said the partnership with strengthen the tie between North Dakota's agriculture and energy industries.

“We made the case to ADM to open a soy crushing plant in North Dakota and outlined the tremendous opportunities for partnerships like this that will directly benefit not only the local economy and farmers, but the entire state for many years to come," Hoeven said in a statement. "This partnership is part of our efforts to make the soy crushing plant a four-for-one project that ties together North Dakota’s agriculture and energy industries in new and innovative ways.”

Work has begun on the demolition portion of the project and should be completed by the end of the year, according to information released by the ADM media department.

"We anticipate the start of construction later this fall," the release stated, "with the number of contractors on site ramping up significantly in the first half of next year."

Plans call for the completion of the plant in 2023, in time to process that fall's soybean crop, Ova said.

"The timeline remains the same," she said. "They want to be up and running by September 2023."

Thursday's announcement by ADM and Marathon included a pledge to continue working on projects to utilize agricultural products to produce renewable fuels, although no specific projects were announced.

When completed, the Spiritwood plant will process soybeans into about 600 million pounds of refined soybean oil annually. That will be transported to Marathon's Dickinson refinery and processed into about 75 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel.

The Spiritwood facility will purchase locally grown soybeans and employ about 75 people at the plant.