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Mining reps meet with Dayton over proposed limits

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Frac sand mining industry representatives met with Gov. Mark Dayton Thursday over legislative attempts to limit mining.

They discussed several measures being considered by the legislature, including a possible new production tax on silica sand. Several silica sand measures deal with local government and environmental concerns about silica sand mining in southeastern Minnesota.

One of them is a proposed rule requiring mines to be located at least a mile from trout streams and related waters. Mining interests say that would amount to a virtual prohibition of mines in the region. Demand for silica sand has been high because it's used in the hydraulic fracturing process to drill for oil and gas.

Commissioner Tom Landwehr of the Department of Natural Resources was at the meeting; he said Dayton is committed to some state-imposed environmental protections.

"He recognizes, and I concur, that there are certain resources that have statewide significance, like trout streams," Landwehr said. "So having some level of state oversight seems appropriate."

Industry representatives are also concerned about a proposed production and processing tax, Landwehr said.

Commissioners of Revenue and the Pollution Control Agency, and two legislative leaders also attended the meeting.