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Mining operations gearing up

The weather has set everything back, but in the next 60 days or so, activity on the University of Minnesota's UMore property will start to become a lot more obvious. Dakota Aggregates vice president Shawn Dahl said crews have been able to do some tree clearing and hope to start grading in the days ahead to begin preparing the property for mining to start in the early fall.

A considerable amount of prep work will need to be done to get to that point, though. In addition to clearing the land, the company will have to get power to the site. Dahl said they also plan to start constructing ancillary facilities to process materials on the property in late July. The facilities will make way for concrete production, asphalt production, precast products for manufacturing and the processing of raw aggregate materials.

Despite delays caused by the weather, Dahl said he's excited to be at this point. The journey to mining on the property has been years in the making and Dahl said it's nice to be doing actual work on the property.

Dakota Aggregates entered into an agreement in June 2011 with the U of M to conduct phased mining of 1,700 acres of land over a 40-year period. More than 170 million tons of sand and gravel lie beneath the university's UMore Park property.

Dakota Aggregates is a partnership of Ames Construction and Cemstone, a concrete producer. The agreement will generate income for the university based on the sale of sand and gravel from the site.

Over the course of the last year the city of Rosemount worked to come up with an ordinance to oversee large scale mineral mining in the community and then approved a series of permits for the company that included a long list of requirements. The city council approved the permit in December 2012.

City planner Eric Zweber said the company has done most of what it needs to do to start mining. The company is currently working on three things including an access agreement to the property from Dakota County, improvements to access on County Road 46 and an air quality permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Dahl said the paperwork has been filed for the access agreement and the air quality permit. They are just waiting word from the two agencies.

While Dakota Aggregates is preparing for mining, so are others. Not knowing the impact the mining will have on the area, the Dakota County Master Gardeners have moved much of their summer programming from the Educational, Research, Display Gardens located off of County Road 46.

Master gardener Brenda Scheer said the group has partnered with some other organizations to offer education opportunities throughout the county. The group's popular Tuesday Evenings in the Garden series will move to the Dakota County Fairgrounds. The group has also partnered with Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville to offer a number of learning opportunities.

For more information on the Dakota Master Gardeners and their summer schedule visit their website at

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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