Sand mine in Chippewa County looking to triple size

2012-08-03T07:00:00Z Sand mine in Chippewa County looking to triple sizeBy ROD STETZER| rod.stetzer@lee.net Chippewa Herald
August 03, 2012 7:00 am  • 

A frac sand mine in the town of Auburn is looking to nearly triple its size.

Superior Silica Sands wants to add 334 acres to its existing 135 acre mine, which is one of nine existing or proposed frac sand mines in the county.

The company, with offices in Fort Worth and Kosse, Texas, filed the expansion request July 31 with the Chippewa County Department of Land Conservation and Forest Management.

That department will likely hold a public hearing on the mining company’s reclamation plan for the expansion site in the fall.

“It’s just part of our mine planning process. It’s not that we’re going to be hauling any more sand to our dry plant in New Auburn,” company CEO Rick Shearer said on Wednesday about the expansion plan.

He said the firm’s processing plant is running at capacity.

The expansion is being sought by the company for its long term needs, he said. “We’re not adding any additional tonnage (of sand now),”  he said. “We are simply wanting to plan ahead.”

Superior Silica opened the mine in the summer of 2011, before the town adopted frac sand mining ordinances.

The town enacted a sand mine moratorium in March but repealed that on July 16 after the ordinances were put in place, town attorney Paul Kent of the Madison law firm Stafford Rosenbaum said.

Kent said the town board on Monday adopted a developer’s agreement with Taylor Creek Transit, clearing the way for that 43-acre mine site to be built.

Two other sand companies have existing proposals for the town of Auburn. Preferred Sands wants to build a 1,224 acre mine in the town, while A & M Mikl’s proposed mine covers 185 acres. No developer agreements have been reached on those proposed mines  Kent said.

“We’re waiting to hear how this might impact us, if it does at all,” Shearer said.

When the company built the mine last year, it reviewed with the town many of the issues now covered by the town ordinance, including trucking and hours of operation, Shearer said.

“Our position is that we should not be impacted by the ordinances that most recently (have) been adopted,” he said.

Shearer said the company takes pride in keeping its word. “We had an understanding with the township and its citizens on how we would operate and we assured them we would operate ... in a responsible manner,” he said.

Processed frac sand is used in the extraction of natural gas and oil.

There’s also another kind of non-metallic mining going on in Chippewa County.

There are 80 sand and gravel operations in the county, said Dan Masterpole, director of the  Department of Land Conservation and Forest Management.

A public hearing has been set for a plan by A-1 Materials, Inc., 3858 County T, Eau Claire for new sand and gravel mines on 50 acres and on 90 acres. Both of the mining sites are in the town of Eagle Point and are owned by  Thomas Revoir and A-1.

The hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 in Room 302 of the county courthouse at 711 N. Bridge St.

The 50 acre site is  located to the west of Highway 124 and south of McCann Creek and O’Neil Creek. The mining on the site will be divided into three phases.

The 90 acre site is located to the west of Highway 124 and south of County SS. The mining on this site will be divided into five phases.

No mining will take place within 75 feet of the ordinary high water mark of the creeks.

The mined materials are used on roadwork, Masterpole said.

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