Frac sand mining and processing operations double from 2011 to 2012
Five years ago, Wisconsin only had a handful of industrial sand facilities. Over the past two years, the increased demand for frac sand drove explosive growth in the state’s sand industry. Frac sand operations, including mining sites, processing plants and loading stations where the sand is poured into rail cars for transport, more than doubled from the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2012. Some companies operate all-in-one facilities where the sand is mined, processed and loaded into rail cars at one contained site. Other companies, such as EOG in Chippewa Falls, have a network of several mine sites that serve one processing plant and rail-loading facility. Smaller mine operators without their own processing capabilities haul sand to processing and transportation hubs including Marshfield or Winona, Minn.
In recent months, as the supply of sand on the market increased and the boom in natural gas production slowed, the growth in Wisconsin’s frac sand industry has slowed as well. The demand for frac sand is unlikely to disappear, according to industry experts, but the gold rush-like growth may be over.
The map below, updated on May 1, 2013, shows 131 sites that are currently permitted and proposed frac sand facilities in Wisconsin. Of the facilites shown, 112 are permitted and the remaining 19 are still in the proposal stages. Sites are color coded by the type of facility; mining, processing, and rail loading.
Map of frac sand facilites in Wisconsin, May 1, 2013