Frac sand slowdown not showing up in permits

A slowdown in the frac sand industry isn’t being reflected in the workload of the Chippewa County Land Conservation and Forest Management Department.

“We continue to see the investments in the infrastructure that is necessary to support the industry for the long haul,” said Dan Masterpole, the department’s director.

He said there’s been no slowdown in the number of new permit applications for frac sand operations in the county.

“We’re continuing getting sand and gravel mine (applications) in the door,” said Seth Ebel, county project engineer.

Masterpole and Ebel updated the county’s Land Conservation and Forest Management Committee on Wednesday about the frac sand industry in the county.

Fracking is the process of extracting oil and natural gas by using a combination of processed sand, water and chemicals.

A frac sand company, Preferred Sands, announced that as of June 11 the company was temporarily suspending operations at its facility in the town of Cooks Valley. That will result in a job cuts at the facility.

“Preferred Sands intends to continue to supply existing processed material from its Bloomer facility and will further evaluate restarting processing operations based on changes in market conditions,” the company said.

Ebel told the committee there are 85 gravel and sand mines in Chippewa County.

“We have basically five active frac sand mines,” he said.

“The one we’re working on right now is a 1,300-acre mine,” Ebel said, speaking of the Northern Sands Mine planned by Northern Sands LLC in the town of Howard and near Dunn County. A public hearing on the reclamation plan for the mine is scheduled for July 27. The county is scheduled to decide whether to issue a permit for the mine on Sept. 17.

Ebel said PurFrac is proposing a 700 acre mine in Cooks Valley.


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