Photos: Farmland holds wealth in sand mining boom

Business ·

1 A miner drills holes in layers of rock where explosives will be placed and detonated to extract silica sand from the mine. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
2 A pillar showing layers of different minerals towers over a drilling machine in the mine. Silica sand has many applications, including being used in the process of extracting oil and natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
3 Al Nelson, plant manager at Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co. in Maiden Rock, Wis., watches a loader deposit sand onto a conveyor belt in the underground mine. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now, some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
4 A sign marks the entrance to the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co.'s, facility in Maiden Rock, Wis. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
5 Rich Budinger, regional manager at Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co., explains the process of sand mining as a conveyor belt carries sand behind him in the company's underground mine in Maiden Rock, Wis. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
6 The Maiden Rock, Wis. facility of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co. has a view of Minnesota on the other side of Lake Pepin. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
7 Lois Steffenhagen, who currently lives on her late brothers' 240-acre farm in Red Wing, Minn., made a decision along with her family to turn down an offer by a sand mining company to buy the property. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
8 A loader moves sand through the underground mine at the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co. in Maiden Rock, Wis. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
9 Silica sand has many applications, including being used in the process of extracting oil and natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
10 A truck is loaded with sand at the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co.'s mining facility in Maiden Rock, Wis. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy. 
11 Al Nelson, plant manager at Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co. in Maiden Rock, Wis., watches a loader deposit sand onto a conveyor belt in the company's underground mine. Sand mining has become big business in recent years and mining companies are looking to expand their properties. Now some landowners are considering the option of selling or leasing their land to big companies who want to explore the area's natural resources and alternative forms of energy.