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A Minnesota Public Radio story today about the cost-competitiveness of natural gas contains an interesting detail.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” requires sand (among other ingredients). And some of the best sand for fracking comes from a mine near Ottawa, in south central Minnesota.

The sand, known as Ottawa White, is sought after for its “exceptional properties in sphericity, conductivity, structural integrity, and crush strength,” according to a vendor’s website. In other words, it’s smooth, hard and ideal for breaking apart rocks.

Grey Lusty, a mining manager in Ottawa, told MPR that the sand is “sort of the Coca-Cola of the frack sand industry.”

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.