Manitoba

Manitoba orders public hearing on proposed silica sand mine in RM of Springfield

The Manitoba government has ordered a public hearing on a proposed mine that would extract silica in the Rural Municipality of Springfield.

No date for the hearing has been set yet

Silica sand is commonly used for natural gas fracking, as well as glass-making, golf courses and construction. (sichkarenko.com/Shuttersock)

The Manitoba government has ordered a public hearing on a proposed mine that would extract silica for fracking in the Rural Municipality of Springfield.

Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard announced the Clean Environment Commission would hold public hearings on a proposed silica sand extraction project. 

The project is being proposed by Calgary-based CanWhite Sands Corp. Wells on private land in the RM would remove water and silica sand from groundwater at various locations.

Silica sand is often used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method of extracting natural gas. It can also be used in glass-making, water filtration, golf courses and construction.

A date and location for the public hearing have not been announced. The province said in a news release the location will be "consistent with the affected community." 

Guillemard also ordered the CEC to provide a technical review of the project, and provide advice and recommendations on the potential environmental effects. 

An environmental licensing decision will not be made until the review and the hearing are complete, she said in a news release.

Comments on the project from members of the public, as well as a technical advisory committee, are posted on the provincial public registry. Several of the comments from residents in the area expressed concern about the potential impact of the project on well water.

On its website, the company says it minimizes its impact on water resources through water management practices and by improving its water efficiency.

According to a notice from the provincial government, the water from the silica sand slurry brought to the surface from the wells would be separated from the sand on site, treated with ultraviolet light and pumped back down the wells. 

The silica sand would then be transported to a previously proposed sand processing facility.

Last year, the Steinbach Carillon reported that the director of the environmental assessment branch of the provincial government had written to CanWhite, saying a public hearing on the processing facility would not be necessary.

That proposal is separate from the extraction project, a provincial government spokesperson said.

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