Sand drying industry prepares for operation in NB

By MaryHelen Swanson—

There has been lots of activity north of North Branch along County Road 30 at 415th Street, and it has produced some questions about what’s going on.

With no signs up, it’s hard to tell that the city’s newest industry is getting ready to commence operation in 2012.

But that’s what’s happening as Tiller Corporation is putting together its site for drying industrial sand.

This is not just any sand, said North Branch planning director Al Cottingham, it is a special sand found in the soil in this area and Western Wisconsin. It’s not found everywhere.

When dried, it will be shipped by rail to sites where it will be used for fracking. Fracking is a slang term for hydraulic fracturing, a process used to get oil or natural gas out of the ground.

Once mined, the sand is washed and trucked to the North Branch site for drying, then loaded on rail cars from tall silo-like structures that could top out at 90 feet.

This past fall, residents in Harris, and east on County Road 9, saw many, many large trucks hauling from morning to night. What they have been doing, Cottingham said, is bringing sand to be stockpiled at a location in Sunrise.

Apparently, Tiller did not have time when they applied for a conditional use permit from the city, to get enough sand stockpiled.

Sand is being trucked to the Sunrise site and another in Grantsburg.

When the operation is ready to begin in spring, or early summer, the sand will be trucked to the North Branch site, at the rate of 10 trucks per hour, noted Cottingham.

When all the sand is transported from the Sunrise site to North Branch, there will be no more hauling from Sunrise, he added. Cottingham said he didn’t think Tiller knew they would have to stockpile sand at Sunrise when they applied for the conditional use permit.

The concrete structure being built out there now will have a fabric roof, similar to a MnDOT salt shed facility.

The operation will also be using several small buildings on site and the tall silo-like structures will be built to store the dry sand, placed along the tracks for dispensing to rail cars.

As noted earlier, these could top out at 90 feet. Cottingham noted that tallest structure at the Zinpro site, the industry just to the south of the Tiller site, is about 110 feet.

Requirements addressed

Cottingham said when the conditional use permit was approved in September, Chisago County Highway Engineer Joe Triplett requested that a turn lane and bypass lane be installed at the intersection of 415th Street and CR 30. This was done at Tiller’s expense, Cottingham noted.

Tiller also paid for the paving of 415th Street between Zinpro and Tiller.

About Tiller Corporation

According to their Web site, Tiller Corporation is the holding company for a family of companies dedicated to providing high quality aggregates and hot mix asphalt to the construction industries. They serve their customers through a series of sites located throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan market. Their three divisions are:

Barton Sand & Gravel Co. manufactures and sells aggregate products primarily to road contractors and concrete, block, and pipe manufacturers.

Commercial Asphalt Co. manufactures and sells hot mix asphalt to pavement contractors.

Barton Enterprises, Inc. operates an asphalt cement storage facility with truck, rail, and barge handling capabilities located in St. Paul.

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