Superior Silica Sands (SSS) announced that it will no longer pursue the construction of a silica sand processing facility in Independence, Wis. “This was a difficult but necessary decision,” said Rick Shearer, chief executive officer of parent company Emerge Energy and SSS. “Given current economic conditions affecting the frac sand industry as a whole, as well as the specific mining and processing economics at Independence, we feel that the project is no longer economically viable.”
Barron County, Wis., authorities have tracked increasing property values in five townships where frac sand mining is taking place, according to information shared with the County Board’s Executive Committee. At its regular monthly meeting, committee members learned that values are on the increase in the towns of Arland, Clinton, Dovre, Sioux Creek and Sumner, all of which have sand mining operations (mines, wet and dry sand plants, and truck-to-rail transloading yards).
Low oil prices and reduced drilling in shale regions like North Dakota are hurting the once fast-growing frac sand industry, slashing demand and forcing price cuts that have led some players to reduce jobs, according to an article in the Star Tribune. U.S. sand mines, including 63 in Wisconsin and six in Minnesota, are projected to ship significantly less sand to oil drillers in 2015, compared with last year, when companies like Fairmount Santrol, U.S. Silica and Superior Silica Sands set production records The nation’s $4.2 billion industrial sand industry is increasingly tethered to the oil and gas sector, which now buys about 72 percent of the output. Sand production more than doubled in five years, and Wisconsin is the leading producer. Minnesota is fourth, behind Illinois and Texas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.