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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • A state appeals court has affirmed a decision blocking a frac sand mine in western Wisconsin, according to a report on Wisconsin Public Radio. The Mississippi Land Connection and Timber Company LLC and Wisconsin Bluff Sands LLC filed an application for a permit for a mine in the town of Waumandee in 2013. The Buffalo County Board of Adjustment denied the application after hearing from experts that little vegetation would grow in the area after the mine closed and from members of the public concerned about potential traffic, declining air quality and declining property values. The 1st District Court of Appeals upheld the board's decision, finding that the board properly considered the mine's environmental impact.
  • Despite a slump in the U.S. oil industry, Wisconsin frac sand producers are planning to spend millions of dollars on new plants and loading facilities as they seek to increase efficiency and sell their product in new markets, according to the Jackson County Tribune. At least half a dozen companies have hatched plans to build mines or loading terminals along rail lines that provide an economical link to drilling operations in Texas, where the demand for silica sand used in a process called hydraulic fracturing remains strong, as well as other regions, according to documents filed with state officials.
  • Stock prices for some of Wisconsin's largest frac sand mining companies started to recover this month after dropping more than 90 percent in the last year-and-a-half. In summer of 2014 oil prices were around $100 per barrel, thousands of oil and gas wells were being drilled, and demand for Wisconsin's frac sand was insatiable. After languishing at around $5 or $6 per share for most of this year, stock prices publicly traded frac-sand companies such as Hi Crush have crept back into the double-digit range. IHS oilfield services analyst Samir Nangia said sand investors are excited because 3,000 wells are ready to be hydraulically fractured in the U.S. and companies are using much more sand per well.