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NexGen Silica Vs Ste Genevieve: Lawsuit Hangs Over Future Mine Site

Hawn State Park in the Spring
John Moore
John Moore
Hawn State Park, seen here, is about 1/2 mile from the silica mine site.

With the Department of Natural Resources approving an Industrial Mineral permit, NexGen Silica LLC was set to start the development of a sandstone silica mine located in Ste Genevieve. However, a local health ordinance is preventing them from moving forward. This has prompted NexGen to sue the city of Ste Genevieve to overturn the ordinance.

On June 30th, the Department approved NexGen's permit to allow their planned mine to be developed, even when it was facing opposition from groups in Ste Genevieve, including Missouri's Sierra Club and Operation Sand. Ste Genevieve County has put health regulations in place from a local health ordinance, which has slowed down the process to a halt. To combat that, NexGen LLC filed a lawsuit on the same day against the Health Department in Ste Genevieve County Circuit Court and the Ste Genevieve County Court.

One of the main concerns over the development of the NexGen sandstone mine was its effect on Hawn State Park, approximately one-half mile away from U.S. Highway 32, where the silica mine would be located.

Marisa Frazier with the Sierra Club worries that the rules are unclear regarding the usage of water. Frazier said that it could lead to the possibility of the groundwater could be overused.

"Anyone can use 'reasonable amount of water for any purpose'. So without further investigation into how much water this usage area can support, an operation of this scale could deplete groundwater resources in the area", said Frazier.

The Department of Natural Resources had approved NexGen Silica LLC's mining permit and with the approval, the permit will remain in place. Director of the Land Reclamation Program with the DNR, Larry Lehman, has said while both the health ordinance and mining permits are completely different, if the ordinance stays, NexGen will not lose its permit.

"Whether the local ordinance stays in place or not, [the mining permit] is still there. So yeah, anything that happens in the county does not impact the current status of the industrial mineral mining permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources", said Lehman.

At the time of this story, there is no official statement about the lawsuit, which was filed in late June. NexGen Silica LLC's 46-page lawsuit claims that the health ordinance is "preempted by the Missouri statutes, was passed using a defective and unlawful procedure, and is unconstitutional".

Josh Seabaugh has been at Southeast since 2018. While journalism was his second major, he's found his home is truly in this field. He is a part of 'Redhawk Rhythm', Southeast's a capella group. During his downtime, he watches shows or plays games with his girlfriend, who has been his biggest supporter.