Despite short-term, localized swings in frac sand activity in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the long-term, underlying demand for the mineral continues to soar.

Just last week, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management auctioned oil and gas leases for 94,676 acres of land in northeastern Montana.

The $16 million auction sets up a major new territory for hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique that is about to make America the world's leading producer of crude oil.

Each new fracking well will consume 1,600 tons of crush-resistant silica sand.

 In North Dakota alone, where 8,000 wells are currently pumping oil, another 28,000 wells are expected to be added over the next 15 to 25 years.

Last week's oil and lease auction of land in McCone County, Montana, was dominated by Donco Inc. of San Antonio, Texas. Donco is a holding of Shale Exploration LLC, also of Texas.

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A revolving door opens to the frac sand industry

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A sign of the times in frac sand country