Court to hear challenge to Winona County’s sand mining ban

Winona County, Minnesota’s first and only county to ban the mining of silica sand for use by the oil and gas industry in hydraulic fracturing, is headed to court to defend it.

Minnesota Sands LLC is asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday to overturn it. The company says the ban is an unconstitutional restraint on interstate commerce.

It also says it’s entitled to compensation because the ban has made its mineral rights in the county worthless.

Winona County argues that a lower court correctly upheld the ban last November.

Southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin have rich deposits of a form of silica sand in high demand by oil and gas drillers.