The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

April 21, 2014

Digging In

Coughlans ready to mine silica sand

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“Bob Coughlan and I have known each other seven years,” Sustacek said. “We met at a CEO roundtable we were members of and built our relationship from there. The Coughlans are very unique business people. I have a great deal of respect for them.”

After a bruising battle to get the project approved by state regulators and by Lime Township and Mankato, Jordan Sands is poised to begin the next phase of the family’s mining heritage.

The perfect sand

Groundbreaking for the project is this spring with the plant to open in the fall, at which time it will employ 25 to 30 people.

The sand operation will be in the existing Jefferson Quarry, which has long been used for extracting Kasota stone, used for building construction.

The operation will consist of a wet operation adjacent to the mining site, west of County Road 5/Third Avenue, a dry plant on the east side of the highway and a rail loading site.

“The wet plant washes the sand and takes out any impurities — clays or anything that might be in the sand. It does an initial sizing of the sand, then it goes through a slurry line to the dry plant,” Sustacek said.

The washed and strained sand then sits to allow water to leach out, then it goes into a large industrial dryer that dries it and sizes it more precisely for different types of uses.

Then the silica will be put either into a storage silo on site or onto a rail car.

“We’ll be making three sizes initially. Size depends on what it’s being used for. The larger sand is for oil (drilling) and the smaller for natural gas,” Sustacek said.

Minnesota is noted for the high quality of silica sand, which is very round grains and is very hard. “They’re perfect for hydraulic fracturing, which is done far underground, under great pressure,” Sustacek said.

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