Frac sandcould be mined whether or not reclamation permit is approved

Although Dunn County is under a moratorium for new sand mining operations, a hearing was held Thursday about modifications to a reclamation permit for an existing commercial mine.

About 20 area residents attended the hearing which was limited to the issue of whether Milestone Materials can expand its existing quarry located in both the unzoned Dunn County township of Stanton and Springfield in neighboring St. Croix County.

Known as the Downing Quarry, permits have been approved in St. Croix County to allow mining of sandstone and frac sand where Milestone Materials leases land. The company is seeking to add 20 acres to the existing 19 acres it owns in Dunn County. The size of the total mine site holding is 144 acres and is expected to be in operation until 2040 or 2050.

Candy Anderson, a geologist for Milestone Materials, explained that the company is also seeking approval to lower the final elevation of the limestone and sandstone quarry an additional 20 to 50 feet. Doing so would neither be close to the water table or affect the ground water, she said.

Milestone Materials, owned by Mathy Construction, already has a reclamation plan for the site on file from 2003. The company is seeking approval for modifications to its existing reclamation permit.

County Conservation Planner Amanda Hanson explained that despite the countywide moratorium, the Land Conservation Division is obligated to consider the application because it was considered complete before the moratorium was officially published in January.

One resident asked Tony Tomashek, vice president of Mathy Construction/Milestone Materials, whether the company can mine frac sand despite the county and Town of Stanton’s moratiums.

“Our position, within our current property lines,” Tomashek said, is that the company is within its rights to do so under its existing permit. “We’d have to get the NR 135 approval to go down after the sand.”

About the process

Anderson said the mine is worked in sections, and reclamation takes place on an ongoing basis. All the topsoil and overburden  — rock not being mined  — that is removed remain on the site and are used to recreate slopes that are planted to grass, pasture or woodland. For long-term safety after the property is reclaimed, she added, fencing, stone boulders and no trespassing signs will be installed.

The Land Conservation Division will accept written comments and questions about modifications to Milestone Materials’ reclamation permit until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9. Minutes of the May 3 hearing, along with answers to questions raised, will be posted on the county’s website at dunncountywi.govoffice2.com.

The division has 60 days to review and make its decision whether to approve the permit — with or without conditions — or to deny it. If a denial is issued, the land conservation officials must provide a detailed list of what state and federal regulations were not met.

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