LA CROSSE, Wis. — New data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the country’s production of industrial sand increased more than 36 percent in 2017 as Wisconsin again led the nation.
The agency’s 2017 Mineral Commodity report was released Thursday. It says the county’s total production was about 105 metric tons, worth an estimated $3.5 billion, the La Crosse Tribune reported. That’s an increase from the 77 million tons in 2016, but still below the 2014 peak.
The average price for sand was about $33 per ton, down slightly from the previous year.
Wisconsin produced $1.5 billion worth of materials, most of which was industrial sand. Only 14 states produced more.
Industrial sand is used in hydraulic fracturing and foundries.
The industry rebounded from 2016, when producers had idle mines and laid off workers, the report said.
“Generally 2016 was a pretty low year,” said Thomas Dolley, a mineral commodity specialist.
The oil and gas industries drove much of the increase. Increased oil and gas drilling, as well as more efficient fracking techniques that require more sand boosted demand. About 63 percent of total domestic consumption is attributed to those industries, the report said.
“In any given year it’s always with the activity in the oil patch,” Dolley said. “If that’s up, sand production will be up.”
There are more than 90 active mines in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources said.
Wisconsin produced about a third of the country’s industrial sand from 2013 and 2015, the DNR said.
Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com