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SLIDESHOW: Frac Sand Mining Has Pros, Cons

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 -- 12:18 PM

There are reports this week that some mining companies are revisiting the notion that Wisconsin may have enough gold to justify new mines. Well, geologists don?t believe there?s much gold in Clark County, but there is plenty of tan.

By tan, we mean sand. And not just any sand. Ancient sand. Almost pure crystalline silica, with rounded edges. The type of sand that?s in high demand by the burgeoning frac mining industry, which is finding new ways to get at oil and gas deep beneath the Earth?s surface.

Clark County currently has three open pit frac sand mines: two northeast of Neillsville on County Highway H in the Town of York and one just west of Neillsville in the Town of Weston.

But, geologists believe there?s plenty more where that came from, as a vein of this type of sand?one of the largest in the country?runs right through our area.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Steve Kunze gave a presentation (see above) to Clark County Towns officials Monday night.

He says there are pros and cons to sand mining. Obviously, job creation is a plus and the demand for these frac sands seems to be growing; but these mines can have some negative side-effects, especially for those that live near them. Plus, the traffic in and out of these, sometimes 24/7, operations can damage local roads.

Then there?s the question of mining in the County Forest, where experts say there is plenty of sand.

We?ll be taking a more in depth look at frac sand mining in Clark County, present and future, in upcoming newscasts.

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.