Rock Products

JUL 2017

Rock Products is the aggregates industry's leading source for market analysis and technology solutions, delivering critical content focusing on aggregates-processing equipment; operational efficiencies; management best practices; comprehensive market

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 63

14 • ROCK products • July 2017 FRAC SAND INSIDER In a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Trempealeau County, Wis., was justified in rejecting Iowa- based AllEnergy's proposal for a 550-acre frac sand mine, processing and rail-loading facility outside Arcadia, Wis. According to the Winona Post, the attorney for AllEnergy, Gary Van Cleve, is also representing would-be miners in a Minnesota lawsuit challenging Winona County's recent frac sand ban. A second lawsuit filed by AllEnergy against Trem- pealeau County is still pending. Applicants are not entitled to get conditional use per- mits (CUPs) and citizens' concerns constitute "substantial evidence" that can justify permit denial, Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote in the court's lead opinion. The ruling affirmed decisions by the circuit and appeals courts in favor of the county. "I continue to contend that our client played it by the book, and they did everything that was asked of them," Van Cleve said. "What ultimately ended up happening was there was a lot of emotional sentiment that drove the decision to deny, and unfortunately that was upheld by the courts." In 2013, neighboring citizens testified that they experienced water quality problems from past mines and said that the proposed mine would threaten water quality, risk flooding, and hurt their property values. Engineers and consultants for the Iowa-based AllEnergy mining company presented information to assure local leaders that there would not be problems, and the Trempealeau County Environment and Land Use Committee (ELUC) drafted further conditions to try to prevent and mitigate any negative effects from the proposed mine. The ELUC ultimately voted 5-3 to deny AllEnergy's permit application. The denial came following citizen opposition to other large mines permitted in Trempealeau County and a wave of electoral victories for mining opponents. AllEnergy sued the county, arguing that citizens' concerns were not merited, and that, because its CUP application met all the necessary standards and would have been subject to conditions mitigating harm, the county had no legal reason to deny a permit. By listing frac sand mining as a conditionally allowable use in the zoning ordinance, the elected County Board had already decided that mining is acceptable, AllEnergy attor- neys argued. Company lawyers contended that the unelected ELUC exceeded its authority by deciding that, despite what the ordinance says, the ELUC did not want any more mining in the county. The Wisconsin Supreme Court was somewhat divided on this case. Three justices backed AllEnergy's claims. Two jus- tices sided with the county, but in a more narrowly written opinion that did not address whether there was substantial evidence. One other justice joined Abrahamson. U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. announced that its board of directors has approved the construction of a new, state-of-the-art frac sand mine and plant in west Texas to serve the rapidly-grow- ing Permian Basin. The new facility is expected to produce approximately 4 mil- lion tons annually and is part of the company's previously announced plan to add approximately 8 to 10 million tons of new Brownfield and Greenfield capacity to meet surging frac sand demand. The $225 million project will be funded from cash on hand and cash flow from operations and is expected to be sup- ported by long-term supply contracts with leading oilfield companies, which include cash pre-payments. Construction of the facility will begin immediately, and initial production is scheduled for late in the fourth quar- ter of 2017. The 3,200-acre site has more than 30 years of reserves of fine grade 40/70 and 100 mesh sand with excellent physical properties. "We believe we've selected one of the most advantaged sites in west Texas with good availability of water, easy access to Interstate 20 and a location that is equidistant to the hearts of both the Delaware and Midland Basins,'' said Bryan Shinn, president and chief executive officer. "Our focus is serving our customers. Those customers told us clearly that they want more local sand supply in the Permian to support future well completions. Their willingness to negotiate long-term supply agreements for this new capacity and to potentially commit their own capital to the project demonstrates the confidence they have in U.S. Silica and the tightness of the frac sand market now and in the future." Shinn added that the company expects to enter into similar agreements for other capacity expansion projects currently underway. U.S. Silica to Construct New State-of-the-Art Plant Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects AllEnergy's Challenge

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Rock Products - JUL 2017