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Frequently Asked Questions

We find ourselves being asked many of the same questions. This page was designed to answer these common questions in detail. Please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.
Mining Silica
What is Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand)
Industrial silica sand refers to sand having the composition and grain-size distribution required for industrial applications. Specifically, industrial silica sand consists of well-rounded sand composed of almost pure quartz grains. Quartz, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), is one of the most common minerals found on the Earth’s surface and is found in rocks like granite, gneiss, and sandstone. The value of industrial silica sand is significantly higher than sand and gravel used in the construction industry.
Where is Industrial Silica Sand Found?
Industrial silica sand is mined from sandstones occurring in portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. In the upper midwest, glacial drift and other bedrock layers commonly exist on top of the sandstone. Three sandstone formations in this region have potential for producing high quality industrial silica sand. The Jordan and Wonewoc sandstones are the most sought after sources followed by St. Peter sandstone. Natural aggregates mined from sand and gravel deposits do not meet specifications for frac sand.
What industries use silica sand?
Industrial silica sand has been mined in the upper midwest for over a century. Uses for this resource include a variety of products and applications like glass-making, abrasives, golf course sand traps, and frac sand. Over the past decade, a sharp increase in demand for industrial silica sand corresponded with a rapid expansion of shale oil and gas development. An extraction method called hydraulic fracturing is used to produce oil and gas from shale formations. Each well requires approximately 10,000 tons of industrial silica sand.
Who regulates industrial silica sand mining?
Industrial silica sand refers to sand having the composition and grain-size distribution required for industrial applications. Specifically, industrial silica sand consists of well-rounded sand composed of almost pure quartz grains. Quartz, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), is one of the most common minerals found on the Earth’s surface and is found in rocks like granite, gneiss, and sandstone. The value of industrial silica sand is significantly higher than sand and gravel used in the construction industry.
What makes Pattison's sand so unique?
Even though sand is found all over the world, the sandstones of the Upper Midwest have several unique physical properties (listed below). It is one of a few known places on Earth where this resource occurs, making it a globally desired commodity.

  • icon Composition: Sand usually contains many different rock types; however, silica sand consists of nearly 95% quartz.
  • icon Strength: Quartz is a very hard mineral and able to withstand high pressures produced during the hydraulic fracturing process without breaking.
  • icon Shape: The sand grains are shaped like little ball bearings allowing for oil and gas to flow between individual grains without clogging the fractured rock. It is very important that the round, unbroken grain shape is preserved throughout mining, processing, and transportation.
  • icon Size: The sand grains are fairly uniform in size. When washed and screened, the sands meet a precise grain-size distribution required for frac sand
Hydraulic Fracturing
What is Hydraulic Fracturing? (Fracking)
Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technology that has been used since the 1940s in more than 1 million wells in the United States to help produce oil and natural gas. The technology involves pumping a water-sand mixture into underground rock layers where the oil or gas is trapped. The pressure of the water creates tiny fissures in the rock. The sand holds open the fissures, allowing the oil or gas to escape and flow up the well. The average depth of a hydraulically fractured oil/gas well is between 6,000-10,000 feet below the surface.
Is hydraulic fracturing widely used?
Yes, Fracking has been common place since 1947, and over 2 million fracked oil/gas wells exist world wide. Fracking is safe, proven, and is likely to increase. A government-industry study found that up to 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing allows access to formations, like shale oil and shale gas, that had not been assessable before without the technology. It also allows more oil and natural gas to be brought to the surface from wells that had been produced without this technology.
Why is hydraulic fracturing important?
It enables production of more oil and natural gas, reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy and creating more jobs for Americans. It’s an indispensable technology for producing much of our clean-burning natural gas, which heats more than 56 million American homes, generates one-fifth of our nation’s electricity, powers buses and fleet vehicles and creates the basic materials for such things as fertilizers and plastics of every variety. When burned for energy, natural gas emits fewer greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels.
Doesn't fracking present a serious threat to the environment?
Absolutely not. The environmental track record is excellent, with over 2 million fracked wells during the past 70+ years, without a single incident of fracking causing the migration of well fluids into the water table. The technology is used under close regulatory supervision by state, local and federal regulators. Hydraulic fracturing has been used in over two million wells throughout the world, and studies by the U.S. EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council have confirmed there has been no link between hydraulic fracturing operations and groundwater impact. anti-fracking hysteria is big business with billions raised to combat a practice that is over 70 years old, but just recently discovered by organizations that make their living through misinformation campaings.
How are fluids kept away from aquifers and drinking water wells?
The same way that oil wells have been drilled for over 100 years. Fracked wells are no different than any other well. The fracking process takes 3-4 days out of a 40+ year well life and occurs MILES below the water table., entirely within the shale seam... a pourous rock already filled with oil and/or gas. Fracking allows this oil and gas to wasily flow into the well casing instead of remaining trapped in the shale... In fact, once fracking is clearly understood, it is obvious that it actually REDUCES the likelyhood of ground water contamination. Like every oil well ever drilled, steel casing and surrounding layers of concrete are installed to provide a safe barrier to protect usable water. This has been proven to prevent gas and oil migration into the water table for over 100 years, in literally millions of wells world wide.
Isn't there risk that fracking will use up an area's water supplies?
Absolutely Not. Local authorities control water use and can restrict it if necessary. In most areas, water is recycled and reused; in many cases companies pay for the water they use which comes from a variety of sources. The actual hydraulic fracturing of a well last for only about two days, and uses less water than the average golf course uses in just two weeks. Over half of the water used in fracking is now recovered and re-used, and that percentage is increasing with some drillers recycling up to 90%. Water requirements for hydraulic fracturing are far less than many other commercial and recreational uses. In Pennsylvania, for example, all the hydraulic fracturing activity taking place in 2009 used only 5 percent of the amount of water used for recreational purposes, like golf courses and ski slopes. State agencies manage water in a way that safeguards the water needs by nearby communities and protects the environment.
Why should communities allow hydraulic fracturing?
For the same reason that a community would want to attract a factory or other business. In addition to the energy produced with little impact on the environment, communities benefit economically. Energy development creates jobs and generates millions of dollars in royalties, taxes and other revenues to federal, state, and local governments. It provides energy for U.S. industry, helps strengthen our economy locally and nationally, and helps contribute to higher disposable incomes. The combination of horizontal drilling, and hydraulic fracturering provides one of the greatest benefits to the environment in history. When oil well heads are consolidated 30-50 per 3 acre pad, instead of spread out at one per 3 acres, the surface impact is VASTLY reduced. All well operations can be monitored, secured, and contained at a single location instead of spread out across the landscape. In virtually every case, once drilling operations have concluded, the presence of these wells are undetectable. completely out of sight, with the surrounding land replanted.

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Contact Information

icon 701 1st Street - Clayton IA 52049


icon (563) 964-2860

Hours of Operation

Office Open Monday - Friday: 8am to 4pm

Operating Hours - 24/7

About Pattison

The Pattison family has, for their entire 60-year history, consistently proven their commitment to their customers, employees, their community and the environment.

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Pattison Sand Company, LLC
701 1st Street
Clayton, IA 52049
  (563) 964-2860
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Pattison Sand Company, LLC.

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