The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 21, 2014

Digging In

Coughlans ready to mine silica sand


He said Jordan Sands will not be a huge user of water. “We’ll have an appropriations permit from the DNR that will show a large appropriation, but we’re really mostly just moving water on our site,” Sustacek said. “We move water from one area so we can mine there and that just stays in the system. We’re just moving water around the site.”

Once sections of mine are exhausted, reclamation will begin.

“There will be continuous reclamation. As we mine we will reclaim right behind what we do. There will be a lot of green space, open space. It could be used for housing, other industrial. There will be some decent-sized bodies of water.”

He said they will borrow some reclamation ideas from nearby Unimin mining in Ottawa, which has long been mining silica sand and reclaiming the prairie.

“Unimin has done things the right way and set a standard with the Kasota Prairie on how to do a great reclamation. So that is something we want to aspire to,” Sustacek said.

Beth Proctor, a biology professor at Minnesota State University, a member of the Lime Valley Township Board and a nearby resident of Jordan Sands, was deeply involved in the permitting process for Jordan Sands.

She said that from the start her goal wasn’t to block the project, as some others had hoped for. “My goal was to have it done safely. I think the whole state is wrestling with the issue of silica sand mining and processing.”

She believes everyone had a fair say in the process leading up to the approval of Jordan Sands, even if not all are happy with the outcome. But she said important unknowns remain about silica mining.

“From my perspective, the important issue is ground water and drinking water and what is the end result,” Proctor said. “The other concern is the air.”

She said that while the state is taking a more serious look at those issues, findings are slow to come.

“What’s frustrating is how slow things move at the state level. I think the process is working as well as can be expected given what we have going on on the state level,” she said.

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