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(Wyo)-Bentonite Market Looking Up

By: John Axtell Posted at: 01/03/2017 02:23 PM
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The market for bentonite clay is looking up, thanks to kitty litter and a better outlook for oil and gas drilling, and that's good for Wyoming.

        Over half of the bentonite mined in the world and more than 90% of U-S production comes from Wyoming, but mining companies say the slump in oil and gas drilling sharply reduced production.

      Bentonite expands significant when wet, swelling up to 16 times its original size and absorbing up to 10 times its weight in water, making it useful for everything from cosmetics to kitty litter, drilling mud for oil exploration to lining the bottom of landfills to keep liquid from seeping into the groundwater.

    With less petroleum drilling because of low prices, bentonite production fell from almost 5-million tons a year to 3.7-million in 2015. 

      Mining companies say steady demand for kitty litter during the oil and gas bust helped them through the downturn while the recent uptick in oil prices has already resulted in more drilling and more demand for bentonite.

      There were nearly 700 bentonite mining jobs in Wyoming in 2015, most of them in the northeastern part of the state in the Upton, Newcastle, and Colony areas.


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