Wisconsin frac sand mines sit dormant as competition grows

Published: Jun. 24, 2019 at 1:14 PM CDT
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Wisconsin's frac sand industry is grappling with several idled mines as the sector faces increased competition in Texas and Oklahoma.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Professor Kent Syverson believes the region's frac sand development boom is over. Superior Silica Sands has idled three sand mines in Wisconsin, while Hi-Crush is halting production at its mine in Augusta.

Syverson tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that demand remains strong, but energy companies have built mines closer to oilfields in Texas and Oklahoma.

Syverson says the production expansion has allowed oil drillers to purchase local sand for less than the cost of shipping it from Wisconsin.

He also argues that companies in the Permian Basin are moving toward finer grain sand. It's lower quality but more plentiful than the northern white sand that's produced in Wisconsin.