Mining has turned into a big business in the state of Texas during the past year, but perhaps in a surprising way. Instead of oil or gravel mining, the biggest boom has been in sand mining.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the price of sand has skyrocketed from $15 per ton just a year ago to almost $40 per ton as of April 2017. Fine-grain sand is being used as part of hydraulic fracturing operations all across the state, and there is an insatiable need for sand at the moment. Demand is high since it can reportedly take almost 1,000 trucks to provide enough sand to frack a large well in Texas right now.
Sand has become increasingly useful in Texas ever since the oil industry figured out how to use it to improve drilling practices. As part of drilling, sand is mixed together with different fracking fluids to crack shale rock deep below the surface of the earth and release oil and gas. The fine grains of sand that are used are referred to as a “proppant” and they have become an essential part of the fracking process, sticking into the cracks that are opened by the pressurized fluid and allowing the oil and gas to be released.
A single well can use up to 25,000 tons of sand these days, reports the Chronicle, which is up dramatically from wells that only used about 1,500 tons back in 2014. This has obviously led to a surge in sand mining interests throughout the state, as more and more companies look to get into the lucrative sand business to supply energy industry buyers with the sand they need.
It doesn’t appear as though this trend is going to slow down anytime soon, either. The Houston Chronicle also reports that oil prices and the number of U.S. drilling rigs have both doubled since dropping to dramatic lows in 2016. Sand has played a role in that, and it’s expected to continue to serve a driving role in operations moving forward. Experts expect many new sand mines to open in Texas and other parts of the country in the coming months as mining and fracturing operations expand the use of sand in their operations.
One of the challenges the sand mining industry has faced is that it can be difficult to work safely on sandy surfaces. The sand needed for fracturing operations is incredibly fine, and often requires traveling on weak or soft soils with heavy equipment and transport vehicles. Ritter Forest Products can help by providing the sand mining industry with the crane mats needed to maintain a safe working environment. Crane mats, laminated mats and dragline mats for use as temporary roads or platforms to get equipment in and out of mining locations.
To learn more about buying or renting mats for your operations, call Ritter Forest Products today at 800-426-9570 or request a quote online now.