Sand mine gets approval in Mankato

A frac sand mine in southern Minnesota has won local approval from the Mankato Planning Commission, and company officials said construction will start this fall.

Jordan Sands' mining and processing facility is located just north of Mankato city limits. The company hopes the 70-acre mine and a processing facility will be up and running in the second quarter of next year.

Mankato Planning Commissioner Mark Luepke abstained from the vote on the mine Wednesday night, saying approving it would be like "swallowing a poison pill" because any new jobs wouldn't justify environmental concerns. The commission's approval was needed under an annexation agreement with Lime Township where the mining site is located.

Company CEO Scott Sustacek said he hopes the operation will be up and running in the second quarter of next year.

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Sustacek said the operation will mostly rely on rail to transport the sand, which he said will make the company viable despite slowing demand for the sand used for hydraulic fracturing.

"Demand has shifted, and so today it's really more about not just having sand but also having a solid business model to go with your operation," he said. "Every time you put sand in a truck and haul it, you're adding cost to the model. So what makes our project unique in that respect is it's completely integrated."

Sustacek said the sand is also high quality.

"Right now we're continuing to see good reception in the marketplace for what we will be bringing forward," he said.

Jordan Sands, an affiliate of Coughlan Companies that has mined limestone in the area for years, still needs water and air quality permits from the state.

Gov. Mark Dayton said this week that he approves of sand mining in Mankato but wants the Legislature to ban frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota because of environmental concerns.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)