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Report: Sand production rebounding across state

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — New data from the U.S. Geological Survey show 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 last week. It found the county’s total production came to about 105 metric tons, an amount worth about $3.5 billion, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

That was an increase from the 77 million tons produced in 2016, but still below the peak recorded in 2014.

The average price for sand was about $33 a 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 has rebounded since 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. Boosting demand were increased oil and gas drilling, as well as more efficient fracking techniques that require more sand. About 63 percent of total domestic consumption stems from 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 to 2015, the DNR said.

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