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Goodhue County mining ban gets six-month extension

RED WING, Minn. -- Silica sand mining in Goodhue County will have to hold off for at least another six months.

The County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the county's mining moratorium for an additional 180 days past its Sept. 6 end date, eliciting a round of applause from an impassioned crowd of close to a hundred area residents gathered in the Government Center.

The decision is less than the one-year extension sought by citizens, but the compromise was seen as a victory, said Jody McIlrath, chairwoman of local activist group Save-the-Bluffs.

"It still means a lot of work needs to be done quickly in those six months," McIlrath said.

She said the group will now shift its focus to creating a mining overlay district, which it proposed to the county's Planning Advisory Commission last month. The district would show specifically where mining would and would not be allowed in the county.

A motion to extend the mining moratorium for another year was considered but failed by a 3-2 vote.

The compromise came after a nearly two-hour public hearing in which citizens continued voicing concerns about the health, environmental and economic impacts of silica mining in the county.