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Note: This map has been updated — see it on our frac sand page.
Project: Wisconsin’s sand rush.

Five years ago, Wisconsin only had a handful of industrial sand facilities. Over the past two years, the increased demand for frac sand drove explosive growth in the state’s sand industry. Frac sand operations, including mining sites, processing plants and loading stations where the sand is poured into rail cars for transport, more than doubled from the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2012. Some companies operate all-in-one facilities where the sand is mined, processed and loaded into rail cars at one contained site. Other companies, such as EOG in Chippewa Falls, have a network of several mine sites that serve one processing plant and rail-loading facility. Smaller mine operators without their own processing capabilities haul sand to processing and transportation hubs including Marshfield or Winona, Minn.

In recent months, as the supply of sand on the market increased and the boom in natural gas production slowed, the growth in Wisconsin’s frac sand industry has slowed as well. The demand for frac sand is unlikely to disappear, according to industry experts, but the gold rush-like growth may be over.

The map below, updated on May 1, 2013, shows 131 sites that are currently permitted and proposed frac sand facilities in Wisconsin. Of the facilites shown, 112 are permitted and the remaining 19 are still in the proposal stages. Sites are color coded by the type of facility; mining, processing, and rail loading.

Map of frac sand facilites in Wisconsin, May 1, 2013

Below is the data we used to create the map. The status of the sites is likely to change as newly constructed sites begin operations and proposed sites move through the permit process. Know of an update? Email

You can download a spreadsheet of the data here: 2013 frac sand facilities, April update

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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