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Minnesota County Bans Frac Sand Mining

According to the Winona Post, Winona County, Minn., board members Marie Kovecsi, Greg Olson and Jim Pomeroy voted 3-2 vote to move forward with banning the frac sand industry in rural Winona County. A final vote on the ban will not be held until the board’s November 22 meeting and the board could still change course.

Under the current rules, the county considers whether to allow frac sand mines on a case-by-case basis. If the county decides to allow a mine, it can impose requirements on the mine and charge the mine for road repairs. The proposed ban would draw a line between sand mined for industrial uses, such as hydraulic fracturing, and sand mined for construction and dairy cow bedding.

Although the mining processes are similar, the ban would outlaw mining sand for industrial uses and allow mining sand for construction. The ban would only apply to new mines or expansions of existing mines, so the county’s only permitted frac sand mine, the Nisbit mine in Saratoga Township, could continue mining, but not expand beyond its current 19-acre permit.

The ban would block Minnesota Sands’ 2012 proposal for multiple frac sand mines in southwest Winona County. That proposal has been on hold for years. The ban would also outlaw frac sand processing and loading facilities in rural parts of Winona County. The ban would not apply within the city limits of Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Minnesota City, or other cities where sand facilities have been built or proposed.