MANKATO — An environmental study on a proposed silica sand mining and processing plant just north of Mankato is finished. The public has until Feb. 20 to comment on the study.
The Lime Township Board reviewed the study at its Jan. 8 meeting, and decided that it covers the topics — such as traffic, air quality, noise and water use — the board was interested in, Chair Karl Friedrichs said.
That decision cleared the way for the study to be officially published, on Monday, which will trigger the one-month comment period.
Jordan Sands, an affiliate of the Coughlan Companies, is seeking permits for the industrial sand mining facility, which could employ 40 people and 30 additional subcontractors. Uses for silica sand include the production of glass and concrete. It can also be injected into rocks to aid in the release of oil and natural gas, a process sometimes called “fracking.”
An open house about the study is slated for 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Mankato Regional Airport.
“That is the best thing township residents can do, is come to that meeting,” Friedrichs said. Take a look at the 303-page report, and it’s easy to see why. Unless you’re the sort of person who doesn’t need to look up what “decanting” and “clarification” mean, you’ll need someone to help explain it.
When it was introduced last year, the proposal did not include on-site mining — the sand was to be mined from nearby pits in Mankato. But the study, called an “environmental assessment worksheet,” states mining will occur on 70 acres to an average depth of 90 feet.
The mines are not new; they have been previously used to remove the stone that sits on top of the Jordan Sandstone.
Airborne silica sand particles were a particular concern of residents at previous meetings.