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Plans are in place for mining on UMore property

Underneath the University of Minnesota's UMore property lies 170 million tons of sand and gravel. Over the next four decades that sand and gravel will bring in a steady stream of income for the University of Minnesota and private partner Dakota Aggregates.

Last week the university and Dakota Aggregates signed a 40-year agreement for phased mining on 1,722 acres of the university's 5,000-acre property that straddles Rosemount and Empire Township.

UMore Development president Charles Muscoplat said once mining is up and running and the recession has waned the university could bring in between $3 and $5 million a year from the operation.

With the agreement signed, the university hopes to start mining sometime in spring or summer 2012. Over the course of the next 10 months or so Dakota Aggregates will seek approval for a mining permit from the city of Rosemount.

The city is in the process of writing a text amendment that would regulate mining at a large-scale level like the university and Dakota Aggregates is proposing. Senior planner Eric Zweber said Dakota Aggregates submitted a mining plan and city staff offered its comments. The company is now revising their plan according to those comments.

Once a reasonable plan has been agreed upon, staff will bring a text amendment to the city's current mining ordinance for the project to the planning commission and the city council. Upon approval of the text amendment Dakota Aggregates will then have to apply for a permit from the city. Both steps will require public hearings, said Zweber.

Currently four gravel mines operate within the Rosemount city limits. Zweber said those mines are limited to mining no more than 13.5 acres at a time.

The partnership between the university and Dakota Aggregates follows the completion of an environmental impact statement. The statement, which is required by the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act, addressed issues such as dust, noise, traffic and other impacts of mining.

The property will be mined over 40 years. At any given time not more than 160 acres will be mined. Muscoplat said he anticipates more mining will be done the second 20 years than the first 20 years.

"As time goes on we will become a major resource for gravel in the area," said Muscoplat.

The income generated for the university will be put into the UMore Legacy Fund. Muscoplat said the fund will be controlled by the university's board of regents and will help fund academic programs that are not adequately funded by the state or the federal government.

Based on tons of material mined, Dakota Aggregates will also contribute funds toward student scholarships and other academic pursuits.

The university's overall vision for the property is a sustainable community of 20,000 to 30,000 people that will be developed over the next 30 years. Muscoplat said the mining fund will not likely support the development as they hope to partner with private entities to fund the community.

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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