As many as 9,000 non-metallic mines operate in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, approximately one mine per 3,000 residents. They include limestone and granite quarries in addition to sand and gravel mines, providing aggregate for construction, stones for monuments, and sand for glassmaking, foundries, livestock bedding, and oil and natural gas development. These mines represent an enormous amount of economic activity operating without widespread regional impacts on human health or the environment.
Industrial silica sand has been mined in the upper Midwest for more than one hundred years. Until recently these mines operated without widespread public recognition or opposition. But the rapid growth in the number of industrial sand facilities and the sand’s end use for oil and natural gas development have generated new public awareness about this old industry, making this once below-the-radar industry a subject of controversy in certain areas. READ ARTICLE