As more shales are exploited for natural gas, demand grows for locally sourced sand to use as a proppant during hydraulic fracturing operations. Shipping tons of sand cross-country is costly, so developing local sources in or near the new shale plays can improve the bottom line. While new sand mining and processing operations ostensibly create local jobs--and that's a good thing in a down-economy--not everyone wants a soon-to-be abandoned quarry in their back yard (NIMBY). I read recently about new frac sand mining proposals in Arkansas' Izard County. Arkansas resident Jennifer Bove, in "The View from My Boots" blog, wrote about frac sand mining threatening the Arkansas Ozarks. Bove published a letter from Gene Dunaway of a group called "Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers." Dunaway said that Fayetteville shale operations are driving the development of new frac sand quarries, such as a site near Calico Rock, and expansion of existing ones, such as the Guion sand plant, established in 1909 by the Arkansas Silica Sand Corp., now controlled by Connecticut-based Unimin Corp., an international industrial mineral producer. [In April 2009, Unimin announced a major capital expansion at its Guion plant that will increase by 700% the plant's capacity to produce ISO/API 40/70 frac sand. The expansion will add an additional 250,000 tons of 40/70 to the company's existing 40/70 capacity in Arkansas and be completed by end of 2009. The company's action is in response increased demand for ISO/API 40/70 grades in the Fayetteville, Haynesville and Barnett basins, where 40/70 is the preferred proppant to efficiently extract gas from shale reservoirs. Guion is ideally situated to serve these production fields via truck and Union Pacific rail direct service. The plant, located in Izard County, AR, has 48 employees.] "Quarry mines usually become big holes in the ground," Dunaway writes. Evident after 100 years of operations at Guion. "Large-scale quarry mining could change the entire character of our area." Agreed. Not sure what the Calico Rock area looks like now, but tourism is apparently one of Izard County's chief industries. "Quorum Court should take action immediately to...assure there is no risk to our water and property." One hopes that municipalities and governing bodies have professional standards for environmental protection. [Arkansas, to its credit, had one of the first programs to register and license geologists in this area of the country. When I first started working on the Gulf Coast, it was the only state to offer this, so for a number of years, I was a licensed Arkansas geoscientist. Texas has since added registration.] On December 3, 2009, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) held a public meeting and hearing in Mount Pleasant, AR, to take comments regarding a construction permit for a process water recycling pond for Bluebird Sand LLC, in Izard County. Bove wrote separately about the Calico Rock sand quarry, "Calico can do better than frac sand mining." She's opposed to unrestricted development and questions the large volumes of water used in mining operations, contamination of discharge water, road traffic, and air-quality issues. She wrote later blogs up on the dangers of silica dust at the mine site and along he haul roads, providing an exhaustive list of resources on silicosis. Aside: Geology of two parallel mountain ranges in western Arkansas, the Ozarks and the Ouachitas, is strikingly different. One has incredible mineralogy and the other...doesn't.