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Frac sand mine denied request to operate during moratorium

Frac sand mine denied request to operate during moratorium

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A Houston County frac sand mine won’t be allowed to operate during the county’s moratorium, a judge has ruled.

Wabasha County  Judge Terrence Walters ruled late last week not to lift a stop work order issued by Houston County for the mine, known as the Erickson Quarry and located a few miles southeast of Rushford.

Minnesota Sands LLC, along with mine owners Tracie and Michelle Erickson, had argued that the company should be able to mine sand because of a  1992 conditional-use permit. The group asked the judge to lift the stop work order, which Houston County issued in July, arguing that the permit doesn’t cover the scope of the operation or the amount of sand the owners want to mine.

The 1992 permit allowed for the extraction of 8,000 to 10,000 cubic yards of sand for a bridge construction project. Minnesota Sands had proposed extracting 2 million cubic yards of sand, according to court documents. 

Minnesota Sands also argued that the moratorium — which prohibits new mines from opening — doesn’t specifically address the operation of existing mines. The judge didn’t address that contention in his ruling.

Houston County approved a one-year moratorium on frac sand mining in February. If that moratorium expires, the owners would then be able to apply for permits for the mine.

Minnesota Sands attorney Jerrie Hayes was out of the office Monday and was unavailable for comment. The mine’s owners, the Ericksons, were unable to be reached for comment.

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