Beneath the surface: Bus tours offer insider’s view of Barron County’s expanding frac sand mining industry | Superior Silica Sands

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Beneath the surface: Bus tours offer insider’s view of Barron County’s expanding frac sand mining industry

ARLAND — Creat­ing hun­dreds of lo­cal jobs and of­ten us­ing lo­cal goods and ser­vices, those lit­tle grains of sand mean big busi­ness for Bar­ron County.

At­ten­dees of the na­tional Gather­ing of the Orange Al­lis-Chalmers trac­tor show held as part of the Moon Lake Thresh­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion Thresh­ing Bee got an in­sider’s view of the of­ten-con­tro­ver­sial frac sand min­ing in­dus­try cour­tesy of Su­pe­rior Sil­ica Sands and the Bar­ron County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Corp.

Peo­ple from through­out the U.S. and Canada took bus tours of a sand mine and wash­ing and dry­ing plants through­out the day Aug. 15.

SSS, a sub­sidiary of Emerge En­ergy Ser­vices, which also owns two fuel com­pa­nies, has cre­ated about 450 jobs lo­cally and re­cently pur­chased a build­ing in Bar­ron for of­fice space, ac­cord­ing to tour guide Sharon Masek, SSS’s Man­ager of Mine Plan­ning and In­dus­trial Re­la­tions.

She used the tours to dis­pel com­mon per­cep­tions of frac sand min­ing, in­clud­ing its im­pact on the ru­ral land­scape and roads.

“When peo­ple tell you the frac sand mines are ru­in­ing the roads … we’re also re­build­ing them,” she said.

SSS is pay­ing $6.2 mil­lion to re­con­struct part of County Road P near Ar­land, she said, and will dole out more than $10 mil­lion for road con­struc­tion projects this year alone.

The com­pany also pays into a sav­ings ac­count on a per-ton ba­sis so that, in a decade, it can re­build the road again, Masek said.

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