1. What is frac sand mining?

  1. Frac sand mining is one of the varieties of what the State of Wisconsin refers to as “non-metallic mining.” The state divides mining activity in the state into metallic and non-metallic mining and regulates them differently. This is why our website is organized the way that it is. Both types of mining are regulated, in part, by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR describes non-metallic mining like this: “Nonmetallic mining is the extraction of stone, sand, rock or similar materials from natural deposits. The most common examples of nonmetallic mines are quarries and pits. Nonmetallic mining is a widespread activity in Wisconsin. The variety of geologic environments support a diverse industry. An estimated 2,500 mines provide: aggregate for construction;  gravel and crushed stone (limestone and dolomite) for road construction; dimension stone for monuments; volcanic andesite for shingles;  peat for horticulture and landscaping; industrial sand for export out of state for the oil industry; and a considerable variety of materials for other uses. The bolded part of the definition is the “frac sand mining” part. Another name for frac sand mining is “industrial sand mining.” It also includes the mining of silica sand used for glass production and for the making of foundry molds. Both of these uses have been providing jobs in Wisconsin for years. It has only been in the past few years, since the rapid expansion of hydraulic fracking in the oil and gas fields of New York, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Montana (among other states) that the demand for Wisconsin sand has exploded.

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