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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • At an open house on frac sand mining issues at the Howard Town Hall in Colfax, Wisc., organized by the Madison-based nonprofit group Midwest Environmental Advocates and local opponents of frac sand mining, community members spoke about the impact of mining on their lives. It is the first of three such meetings to be held in Western Wisconsin, according to the Leader-Telegram. Comments made at the meetings are to be forwarded to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be considered in the initial “scoping” phase of what is to be a statewide DNR analysis of environmental and economic issues with frac sand mining. DNR staff has said the scoping phase for the study, which includes gathering public concerns from around the state, would be completed in March, said Kim Wright, director of Midwest Environmental Advocates.
 

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The CEO of CSX, Michael Ward, stated during the company’s investor conference call, “Right now, as we look out through 2015 we don't see any significant impact at all in our crude oil by rail into the eastern markets, and certainly in our frac sand markets where we're moving into the Utica and the Marcellus area, where the natural gas and the natural gas liquids are, we don't think it will impact the frac sands that we're moving into those areas at all.”

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Despite concerns about falling demand for frac sand in light of the plunge in oil prices, state officials say they haven’t noticed any slowing of mining activity in Wisconsin, according to the Cap Times. Deb Dix of the Department of Natural Resources, the agency lead on industrial sand mining, said companies are continuing to press forward. “I have not seen any reduction at this time and from recent conversations with industry there are still a number of new operations which are working toward being able to begin production as quickly as possible,” she said. 

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Canadian National Railway Co. reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and boosted its dividend, but lagged its main Canadian rival in a key efficiency measure. CN Rail said it is aiming to increase shipments of crude oil and frac sand in 2015 despite a steep decline in the price of oil. "There's a lot of investments that are being made by our customers in the energy markets," said Chief Executive Claude Mongeau on a call with analysts and investors. But Mongeau added that "there will be uncertainty. The price is obviously a key factor." Canada's biggest railway said it moved 128,000 carloads of crude and 89,000 carloads of frac sand in 2014, and sees a combined increase of 75,000 carloads in 2015.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • There’s been a lot of talk recently about how the frac sand industry will be affected by the recent drop in oil prices. But overall experts are saying frac sand miners shouldn’t be worried, there’s no evidence of a slowdown in Wisconsin, and it’ll take a lot more than a temporary drop in oil prices to change the demand for frac sand, despite a noticeable decrease in rail traffic, according to the Post Bulletin.

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