MnDNR Silica Sand Fact Sheet
Silica Sand Mine Proposals in Scott County
Thirty years ago, the first silica sand mine in Scott County opened along the west side of Highway 169 between Jordan and Shakopee. That mine closed ten years later, due to slow market conditions. Over the years, silica sand has been used to manufacture glass, for sand blasting, and other assorted applications. However, recent increases in crude oil production and rising natural gas prices have created increasing use of silica sand in a process called hydraulic fracturing -- also known as “fracking” -- which increases the yield of oil and natural gas from deep shale formations.
There are currently two proposals to mine frack sand being considered within Scott County. One, Great Plains Sands, is located at the site of the previous silica mine described above; the other, Merriam Junction Sands, is in an area of previous limestone mining operations just south of Highway 41 and west of Highway 169. Together, these mining proposals would encompass around 1200 acres. The smaller proposed site (Great Plains Sands), which is located at the site of the previously closed silica mine, is in the process of completing an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and is expected to start the County’s permitting process later this spring. The larger site, Merriam Junction Sands, is just beginning preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
There will be an EIS scoping meeting held on March 13th in the Scott County Board Room at 9:30 AM to gather public comments on issues that will be considered within the Merriam Junction EIS.
The adequacy decision for the EAW for the Great Plains Sands EAW will be March 13th at the regularly scheduled County Board meeting.
More information about both of these projects is available through the County’s website, Environmental Reviews.
More information on Frac sand mining is also available from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.