Plans for a proposed frac sand mining operation near New Albin, Iowa, is temporarily on hold.
A permit application was withdrawn Tuesday, according to Allamakee County officials.
Engineering firm G-Cubed, based out of Chatfield, Minn., submitted the application Sept. 7 on behalf of David Mitchell, who owns an 11.7 acre parcel about seven miles southwest of New Albin.
The company wants to take more time to inform the public about the project, said Chris Priebe, G-Cubed engineering specialist.
“If there are more concerns, we can address them if they come up,” he said.
The sand that exists beneath the hills of rich Iowa farmland is a special type of golden silica desired for its durability and spherical shape.
Frac sand is used to hold open drilling shafts in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which extracts natural gas from underground.
Frac sand fetches a high price per ton, and mining operations provide much needed jobs.
But like residents in other area towns where new mines are springing up, New Albin residents are worried about risks to their health and the environment.
“Frac sand (mining) has hazards,” said New Albin resident George Blair. “There’s a carcinogen effect — microscopic crystalline silica sand gets in the air. There are concerns about ground water, chemicals used.”
Blair first heard about the proposed mine Oct. 14 at a community meeting. Prior to Sunday he didn’t know much about frac sand mining, but the more he learns, the less he likes.
“We’re trying to get a two-year moratorium, so that (the public) can at least examine the facts and find out what the true hazards are,” Blair said.
The Allamakee County Board of Adjustment will meet Oct. 24 for a public hearing on the plan.