Future of frac sand unclear

Main Story:
Frac sand boom creates thousands of jobs
Interactive Map:
2012 Frac Sand Facilities in Wisconsin

What will the sand mining industry look like in Wisconsin in 30 years? Some of the small sites will be completely mined and reclaimed in a few years, according to permit applications, while most of the larger facilities with processing plants estimate they have 15 to 25 years of sand reserves. The demand for Wisconsin’s sand directly follows the demand for oil and natural gas, according to Thomas Dolley, a mineral commodity specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “I’ve heard rumors that things are flattening out a bit, but I don’t think it (hydraulic fracturing) is going away anytime soon,” Dolley said. In Wisconsin, many industry experts believe that the state is nearing the peak of new mine development and that established, corporate mining companies will soon out-compete the smaller operations.

Photo gallery: Walker vs. Barrett, 2012

Since the beginning of the gubernatorial recall primary in April, both Gov. Scott Walker and challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett have hopscotched across Wisconsin to rally support as the June 5 election day approaches. Both campaigns have been very protective of their candidates. When either Walker or Barrett traveled, access was mostly granted to media outlets — not the general public. Walker spent much of his time visiting manufacturing plants to promote his jobs agenda. It wasn’t unusual for Walker to visit two or three locations throughout the state in a day.