It would be all but impossible to find a worse place in Ste. Genevieve County to site a silica mining operation than on Highway 32 across from the entrance road to Hawn State Park, viewed in terms of the public interest. The local owners of the proposed mine, Nexgen Silica (incorporated in January 2022), told the crowd in a Ste. Genevieve gym at a DNR/Nexgen public meeting May 19 that it was their intent to “set the standard in the industry for mining silica sand,” not only in the US but globally.
The audience of concerned citizens weren’t buying it; they knew that any standard would have to begin with proper siting. Many also knew that meeting Missouri’s standards for water and air, as the owners promised to do, would be nowhere near adequate, and that Missouri has no standards at all for noise, light, traffic disruption, road deterioration, or silica.
The Lamotte sandstone, found almost exclusively in Ste. Genevieve County, provides the foundation for the incredible beauty, biotic diversity, and popularity of Hawn State Park, plus three nearby conservation areas and numerous state-designated natural areas. Geologists about a decade ago determined it to be a valuable source of frac sand used in producing oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing. Several silica mining operations had begun in the last decade in less known places in the county but had soon failed and ceased operation, after having torn up the areas they were working in, leaving them as wastelands. Mining is inherently boom and bust, and the US has finally begun trying as a matter of public policy to wean itself off carbon fuels in an era of global warming, meaning less fracking. Then, with Covid-induced supply chain issues and the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupting global oil markets, the price of silica sand began rising sharply. Continue reading the article in the July, 2022 issue of Heritage.
Read St. Louis Public Radio’s coverage of the proposed silica mine.
Learn about Friends of Hawn and Operation Sand and their efforts to stop the proposed silica mine.
View MPA's resolution opposing the proposed NexGen Silica Sand Mine Across from Hawn State Park.