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From staff reports
The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, issued an Opinion on Oct. 17, affirming the previous decision of the Missouri Mining Commission reversing the issuance of a mining permit to Nexgen Silica, LLC for a proposed silica frac sand mine in Ste. Genevieve County.
In its Opinion, the Court of Appeals stated, “Because Nexgen’s permit application did not identify all parties with an interest in the land and did not contain the written consent of all parties prior to approval of the mining permit by the Department of Natural Resources, we affirm the decision of the Missouri Mining Commission to deny Nexgen’s permit application.”
Jillian Ditch Anslow, who helped organize Operation Sand, LLC to raise public awareness about the proposed silica sand mine, expressed pleasure in the decision.
“We formed Operation Sand to protect our members and supporters from the documented adverse health and environmental impacts of the silica frac sand mine,” she said. “Ste. Genevieve County is abundant with natural resources, including clean air, clean drinking water, as well as Hawn State Park, and all these deserve to be protected.”
“We’re just going to take time to evaluate all of our options at this point,” Roger Faulkner, one of the NexGen partners, said on Monday, “and see what our next step will be.”
He added that they had had to deal with “a couple of curveballs along the way.”
After Nexgen submitted its mining permit application in 2022, the St. Genevieve County Commission and County Health Department adopted a Joint Health Ordinance that imposes setback requirements such that the property line of a silica sand mining and processing facility cannot be located closer than one-half mile to a church, school, playground, or recreational area. Further, the Joint Health Ordinance provides that such facilities cannot be located closer than one-quarter mile to an occupied residence, or a cave, sinkhole, losing stream, tributary of a losing stream, or certain designated stream segments.
“The location of the proposed silica sand mine does not comply with several of the setbacks established by Ste. Genevieve County,” said Stephen Jeffery, the attorney for Operation Sand. “Because any new permit application submitted by Nexgen now is clearly subject to the Joint Health Ordinance, that probably explains why Nexgen filed a lawsuit against the County attempting to invalidate the Joint Health Ordinance,” Jeffery added.
At the time the ordinances were passed, Faulkner indicated that the venture would not likely be worth pursuing if the ordinances stand in court.
That case is still working its way through the court system.
“We are so thankful that the courts have upheld the denial of the mining permit, which otherwise would have been so disastrous for so many of us who live nearby,” Anslow said. “We are also thankful that our local officials stepped up to consider the effects of silica sand mining and took action to safeguard and protect our local public health.”
NexGen Silica requested a permit to mine a 249-acre tract of land along Highway 32 in March, 2022. Operation Sand and others soon organized to oppose the operation.
A contentious public meeting was held in May, which seemed to raise more questions than it answered.
At the end of June, the DNR granted NexGen’s request to mine 115 of the 249 acres along Highway 32, roughly between Glassey Lane and Miller Switch Road.