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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Oil prices could move back above $50 a barrel within a year as an OPEC initiative to freeze production gains support, according to CNNMoney. That's the view of Qatar's energy minister, Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada, who also holds the rotating presidency of OPEC. "At the moment the best possible feasible proposal is to freeze at the level of production of January," al-Sada said in an exclusive interview. "We think [a production freeze] will gather more and more approval because it is [in] the interest of all parties." Five of OPEC's 13 members – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and Venezuela – plus Russia, have agreed to keep output steady. The idea is that by freezing production the countries will be able to fight a global supply glut, and save their endangered economies. But oil markets continue to be rattled by chaos within OPEC. Iran has blasted the production freeze as a "joke,” and Saudi Arabia says it is not prepared to cut output.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • North America Frac Sand Inc. announced the appointment of Green Engineering Ltd. to complete a NI 43-101 report on North America Frac Sand (CA) Ltd.’s 30,000 acres of mineral leases located 30 kilometers west of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The company earlier announced a Share Purchase Agreement with Canadian Sandtech Inc. and is expected to conclude the acquisition of North America Frac Sand (CA) Ltd. by Feb. 29, 2016.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to the Jackson County Chronicle, a group of landowners has launched an effort to halt frac sand mining in Jackson County, Wis. A petition filed in Jackson County Circuit Court said county officials haven’t followed proper procedures for appealing zoning decisions and should re-consider a legal challenge made against a rail spur for sand transportation in the town of Adams, Wis.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to Oil Pro, oil prices rose toward $34/bbl, amid growing chatter about the possibility of OPEC and non-OPEC producers meeting to discuss cutting production levels to support prices. Brent hit $35/bbl after the Russian Energy Minister said Saudi Arabia had proposed cutting oil output by up to 5 percent by each country in order to bolster oil prices. Brent was about $6 higher than the 12-year low set this earlier this month, but it's still down approximately 10.5 percent in January following a 16 percent drop in December. Meanwhile, WTI was up $0.04 to $32.34/bbl, after settling the previous session up $0.85, representing a gain of 2.7 percent.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The University of Iowa’s (U of I) School of Occupational and Environmental Health held a public forum titled, “Assessment Of Health Risks From Community Exposure To Silica Sand During Sand Mining.” According to Tom Peters, a professor in U of I’s department of occupational and environmental health, his group obtained funding from the National Institute of Health for study of air quality near six frac-sand mines in Wisconsin. Over the past 18 months, in addition to setting up stationary air monitors, his group worked with the Trempealeau County Health Department to find homeowners who were willing to participate in the study. They sampled air near a total of 17 homes that were located within 2.5 miles of frac sand mines. Peters said his group’s exposure measurements show that a person’s risk is related to their exposure and the actual toxicity of the silica particles. He said while there have been many studies done on the toxicology of silica sand, there has not been a study on the type of sand specific to mining.

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