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Sand Company Cuts Freshwater Consmption by Over 50%

Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company, a Fairmount Minerals company, has reduced its freshwater consumption by more than 50 percent during the last three years at all of its mines.

The mines, which are located in Maiden Rock, Bay City, and Menomonie, Wisc., are recapturing, recycling, and reusing nearly all of the process water following significant capital investment in new technology such as thickener tanks at the Menomonie and Bay City mines. The tanks draw silt and clay from the wash water so the water can be recycled and reused.

At the Maiden Rock mine, a new, more efficient wash plant also recycles water, in addition to having drain tiles under washed sand stockpiles so water can be recaptured as the sand dries.
The Maiden Rock underground mine and Bay City underground mine have each reduced the amount of freshwater used per ton of sand produced by 60 percent since 2010. The Menomonie mine in Dunn County has reduced the amount of freshwater per ton of sand produced by 54.5 percent since 2009.

The Maiden Rock mine is using only 42 percent of the average amount of water allowed under its high-capacity well permit issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Bay City mine is using only 17 percent of its permitted amount; the Menomonie mine is using just 15 percent.

Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company is also decreasing its environmental footprint with a solar energy panel that powers the Menomonie mine’s offices, laboratory, and maintenance shop. The company has also invested in a new sand dryer for the Maiden Rock mine, running on cleaner-burning natural gas instead of propane.
In July, Eli Gruber, the president and CEO of Ecologix Environmental Systems, detailed the benefits of recycling wastewater in remote locations such as mines. The advantages of such an approach include reducing a facility’s reliance on local water resources and reducing the need for trucking in water.
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