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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to the Allamakee County Standard, the Allamakee County, Iowa, Board of Supervisors held a public hearing regarding the regulation of frac sand mining and other industrial minerals. Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake said the county received an application for the mining of silica sand almost two years ago, and though that application was eventually withdrawn, it did bring the issue to the attention of environmental advocates, the Board of Supervisors and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Blake said that after the Board of Supervisors imposed a moratorium on frac sand mining, the Planning and Zoning Commission went to work on developing appropriate rules to regulate such mining activity, and to that end the Commission held numerous public hearings and public forums and investigated many aspects of the mining industry. Blake said that the Planning and Zoning Commission recommends the adoption of an amendment to the County's zoning ordinance that replaces the current section regarding extraction pits, with the goal being to impose higher regulatory standards on larger mining operations than it does on smaller operations.
  • According to the Barron News Shield, a scientific effort to measure the presence of silica dust particles has begun near New Auburn, Wis., the site of several frac sand mines, sand-washing and sand-drying operations. The effort is being coordinated by Crispin Pierce, associate professor and program director of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Environmental Public Health Program. Last year, Pierce told Wisconsin Public Television that his aim is to “add to the slowly-growing body of knowledge on the concentration of these particulates around sand mines, transport facilities and sand processing activities in Wisconsin.” The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has said that, “While the data from studies like Professor Pierce's are of interest, the conclusions drawn are uncertain and of limited value due to the very limited sample sizes and the fact that they employ non-federally-approved sampling methodologies.”
  • According to the Sawyer County Record, the Sawyer County, Wis., Zoning Committee is seeking ordinance changes regarding frac sand. The possibility of sand production has drawn the interest of frac sand miners, according to Dale Olson, Zoning and Conservation Department administrator. Due to this interest, the Zoning Committee is seeking to change the county’s gravel pit ordinance to declare a pit that is more than 25 acres or 25 ft. deep should have “large pit status.” The ordinance would also change the definition of frac sand. Frac sand mining has increased dramatically in the state in recent years, the paper reported, and has caused issues in some areas due to dust and increased traffic to transport the sand.