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Report: Demand for frac-sand falling

EAU CLAIRE, WI (WTAQ) - The demand for frac-sand appears to be sinking in western Wisconsin and Minnesota – as least for now.

Over 100 silica sand mines opened in the Badger State in recent years, the most in the nation, amid a demand by oil and gas companies to use it in their domestic drilling equipment.

However, the Winona Daily News quotes both industry and government officials as saying the demand for frac-sand has cooled off greatly this year – but it will grow again soon.

The Fredonia Group, a market research outfit, says the total annual demand for the product will grow by almost 5 percent a year through at least 2016. Experts say the demand for frac-sand was higher than the supply a year ago, but the supply has since caught up.

For now, Superior Sand Systems of Wabasha Minnesota expects to remain idle, after it got an operation permit late last year.

Meanwhile, U.S. Silica – the nation’s second-largest frac-sand maker – just opened a mine at Sparta, and it expects no problem selling what the new mine produces.

As of 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey said only 41 percent of all frac-sand produced in the nation was used for hydraulic and packing equipment. The rest was used to help manufacture other products ranging from toothpaste to roofing shingles.