Duininck's seek to continue scenic hard rock mining

OLIVIA -- Duininck Brothers Inc., of Prinsburg is asking Renville County for permission to continue hard rock mining operations in its quarry located within the wild and scenic river district of the Minnesota River.

OLIVIA -- Duininck Brothers Inc., of Prinsburg is asking Renville County for permission to continue hard rock mining operations in its quarry located within the wild and scenic river district of the Minnesota River.

Harris Duininck, company president, asked the Renville County board of commissioners on Tuesday for an extension to its permit at the 30-acre site in Beaver Falls Township north of Redwood Falls. Its conditional use permit for the site expires at the end of this year.

The commissioners said they would take up the request on Jan. 17, when their attorney for environmental issues can be present.

The company's request for an extension will face certain opposition from the Department of Natural Resources.

Gene Merriam, commissioner of the DNR, informed the Renville County board of commissioners in a letter dated Dec. 1 that the department "does not support continuation" of quarry operations at the site.


He described the hard rock operations there as an "unauthorized use" and stated that "no new blasting or quarrying'' should occur at the site.

Merriam stated in his letter that he anticipates the county would allow the company a reasonable amount of time to remove stockpiled material and complete stabilization and reclamation work.

Renville County approved a five-year permit for mining operations at the site in 1997. The county and DNR have since acknowledged that the permit was issued in error. It was not realized that the quarry was located within the wild and scenic district. Sand and gravel extraction is allowed in the district, but not hard rock mining.

The original mistake was discovered when the five-year permit came up for renewal in 2003. The commissioners approved a two-year conditional use permit that allowed for mining as part of an exit strategy at the site.

Duininck told the commissioners on Tuesday that the best means of reclaiming the site requires the continued operations.

It would be difficult to complete the requirements of reclamation, such as establishing a soil covering, when mining operations are in the middle of the process, according to the company president.

He also said that the company has not operated in the quarry during the last year due to a cease and desist order issued on April 27. The order was issued when two small wetlands were identified on the site.

The company has been unsuccessful in efforts to appeal the order. Duininck said operations could continue around the wetlands, which occupy about 800 to 1,200 square feet of area, he said.


The company will experience monetary damages if it is not allowed to complete the mining operations there, Duininck told the commissioners. He pointed out that the company originally sought a permit to mine the site for 25 years. It invested in the site anticipating that the original, five-year permit would be renewed as needed, he added.

The company president did not specify the length of the extension the company is seeking. He said it would like to continue operations to within 50 feet of the road right-of-way as originally granted the company. "You want to extend the time frame to do what could have been done in the past?'' asked Commissioner Ralph Novotony.

Duininck and Jason Ver Steeg, director of engineering for the company, said that was the case. Duininck said he would need to complete measurements at the site to estimate the time needed to complete operations at the site. Ver Steeg indicated it could be 10 years.

Renville County's commissioners said they would consider the request at their meeting January 17, when their environmental attorney could be present. But in apparent reference to the letter from the head of the DNR, Commissioner John Stahl, Olivia, voiced his concerns about whether the county could allow hard rock mining to continue at the site. "I'm not sure that we as a board have too much to say about it,'' said Stahl.

But Duininck said he felt the issue was in the hands of the county board. "I think that you guys have jurisdiction,'' he told the commissioners.

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