The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

April 21, 2014

Digging In

Coughlans ready to mine silica sand

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“I think we always felt we had a good project here and it just took longer to get everyone else to see the quality of the project. To see what we were doing and how we were going about it,” Sustacek said.

“We’re pleased we went down that path because ultimately the project proved itself out with people. A lot of this just got caught up in the statewide issue.

Coughlan said the longer-than-expected process made them ensure they would do everything to the highest standards.

“It was a vigorous process, but I’m glad we went through it,” Coughlan said. “We learned how to do it right. I’ve seen where some folks in the industry take it very serious and others are more relaxed. You have to do it seriously, you have to be very professional.”

Numerous concerns were aired about the project, from the idea of oil fracking itself (although fracking isn’t done in Minnesota), to increased truck traffic, concerns about water wells and the potential dangers from the tiny dust particles that can blow from a silica operation.

The company said he has multiple approaches to keeping dust from causing problems. A dust-collection system inside the dry plant will trap dust there.

“Fugitive dust just blowing around (outside), we have a plan for that, too. What we’ll have to do on a constant basis is measure moisture content of the sand on our property. If it slips below a certain moisture content, we will add water. That level is in our contract,” Sustacek said.

“Another thing is we voluntarily agreed to put air-monitoring systems at the borders of our property that will measure ambient air every six days. It’s reported to the state and Lime Township.” He said a few silica operations in the state have already been doing the air-monitoring systems, and so far there has been nothing recorded that indicates a danger of the dust getting off site.

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