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This Week’s Market Buzz


  • Two challengers out-polled incumbent Trempealeau County, Wis., supervisor Tom Bice in a recent primary election, leaving the frac sand mining proponent off the April general election ballot. Jon Schultz and Daryl Kramer received 61 and 55 votes, respectively, according to the LaCrosse Tribune. Bice, the District 5 supervisor since 2010 and former chairman of the Environment and Land Use Committee, received 46 votes. Schultz and Kramer both support Trempealeau County’s moratorium on new frac sand mining permits.
  • Athabasca Minerals, a small Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based mining company  that operates gravel pits in the Fort McMurray area for oil sands producers, wants to get in on the frac sand action.Two years ago, Athabasca applied to the province for a permit to develop its Firebag frac sand deposit north of Fort McMurray. Since transport costs are key, Firebag’s proximity to the big oil and gas plays in Western Canada gives it a big edge over U.S. sources, says company CEO Dom Kriangkum. In addition, the frac sand at Firebag is also comparable in quality to the grades found in Wisconsin or Wyoming. The permit delay is partly due to staff turnover at Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, according to the Edmonton Journal.
  • According to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, mining companies, a Wisconsin county and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls are teaming up on a $232,000, five-year study probing how the vast tracts of Wisconsin used for nonmetallic mining ¬– including mining for frac sand – can best be reclaimed. The project will focus on Chippewa County, a hotbed of the state’s frac sand mining boom, where six industrial sand mining operations and 73 sand and gravel operations have already opened. Four more industrial sand mines are permitted. In the study, Chippewa County plans to work with the UW-River Falls, Onalaska-based Mathy Construction and Texas-based Superior Silica Sands.