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The Surprisingly Big Market for Sand Just Collapsed

  • The sand market has collapsed, bringing painful end to boom
  • `It’s kind of like almost getting your dreams crushed'
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In New Auburn, Wisconsin, a desolate, little outpost carved from the rolling pine-tree forests that run into Lake Superior, the collapse in oil is wreaking havoc on every aspect of the economy.

It’s not that there’s any oil here. None in fact for hundreds of miles around. What they’ve got is sand. Real good sand, piled high in giant mounds. And in what is a little-known offshoot of the shale oil revolution that swept across America over the past decade, the market for sand -- the grit that props open the rocks and makes fracking possible -- exploded too, transforming almost overnight what had been a sleepy industry that sold primarily to the likes of glass makers and golf courses. So when the shale boom went bust, it took down the sand industry with it. Prices have sunk almost a third to under $40 per ton.