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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to the Winona Daily News, Independence, Minn., Common Council members gave the green light to annex a portion of the city’s land after previously denying the request. The council rejected the estimated 250-acre annexation proposed by Hi-Crush Proppants LLC during a meeting Oct. 22, but brought the petition back for a special session to vote again. The annexation was approved in a 5-1 vote. The Independence annexation is one part of a $100-million project that would annex land from the town of Lincoln, Minn., to establish a frac sand mine to be located in both the cities of Independence and Whitehall, Minn. According to Hi-Crush officials, the mine’s wet plant would be connected to the dry plant via conveyor system, and there would be a potential for as many as 300 rail cars, depending upon their size.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Hi-Crush Partners LP announced that Hi-Crush Operating LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hi-Crush, has reached an amicable settlement with Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc., or Baker Hughes, in previously disclosed litigation between the parties and have filed with the State District Court of Harris County, Texas, a Joint Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice with respect to all claims and counterclaims asserted in the lawsuit. In connection with the settlement, Hi-Crush and Baker Hughes have entered into a six-year supply agreement for the sale of Northern White frac sand by Hi-Crush to Baker Hughes. James Whipkey, co-chief executive officer of Hi-Crush, said, “We are very pleased to have amicably resolved this matter with Baker Hughes and to strengthen our relationship with them by entering into a six-year supply agreement. We consider Baker Hughes a valuable partner as we continue to expand our market presence.”
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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The city of Decorah, Iowa, has been asked to take a stand on frac sand mining, according to the Decorah Newspapers. Mayoral Candidate Jim McIntosh wrote, “People of Decorah look to the city administration to speak for and to focus our desires for the city we love. We therefore request that the mayor and the City Council employ its influence to convey our convictions to those who will be making the immense decisions that will affect our lives. We therefore ask that the city leadership consider and adopt the following resolution: ‘Given the potential damage to personal health, our traditional way of life and to the environment the people of Decorah have grown to cherish, we the mayor and city council of the city of Decorah stand with and support those opposing the institution of frac sand mining in Winneshiek County.’” McIntosh said although there would likely be “very little” frac-sand mining within the city of Decorah, it’s important the city’s position on the issue be known.

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This Week's Market Buzz

  • KBIA Radio reports that The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has postponed its decision on issuing a permit for a proposed frac sand mine in Ste. Genevieve County. The department’s Land Reclamation Commission voted to table its decision for two weeks so it can determine if the mine’s location would violate a federal non-discrimination act. At issue is a residence where a student is home-schooled. She is unable to attend school because of a health condition. An existing law prohibits a mine from opening within a specified distance of a “school.”
  • The Winona Daily News reports that The city of Winona, Minn., will have to wait to talk with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) about monitoring city air for frac sand dust. The city’s planning commission requested last month to meet with an MPCA official during a regular meeting to discuss the city’s options for air-quality monitoring. However, the MPCA recently told city staff it wants to wait for the state Environmental Quality Board to draft standards for frac sand mining before moving forward on any air-quality discussions, according to assistant city planner Carlos Espinosa. The board earlier this month announced plans to slow down work on those standards after criticism from frac sand opponents that the standards are too loose and in some cases may conflict with city or county regulations
  • The Caledonia Argus reports that an upcoming environmental review of the biggest frac sand mining project ever proposed in southeast Minnesota must not only examine impacts on air, water and economics, but should also require full disclosure of the proposers’ business ties and track record, according to a report released by the Land Stewardship Project. Such a review must also be conducted by independent experts with no ties to the proposers or the frac sand industry in general, concludes “The People’s EIS Scoping Report.” The report addresses the necessary scope and depth of the Environmental Impact Statement soon to be underway on the frac sand mining project proposed by Minnesota Sands, LLC.

This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Frac sand mining in Minnesota now has its own website. Six state agencies created a portal to their frac sand activities and rule-making around the industry. Officials said the site is geared toward easy navigation of the regulatory landscape. In particular, it will help people interested in what the state is doing to develop new rules for managing and permitting silica sand projects. The website, silicasand.mn.gov, provides links to each of the state agencies involved with making the new rules or managing activities involved with the mining, transportation and processing of silica sand. They include the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Pollution Control Agency (PCA), Department of Health, Department of Transportation and Department of Agriculture.

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