[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Alternatives to Coastal Dune Mining Available

Enviro-Mich message from "Cynthia Price" <skyprice@gmail.com>

I am posting this on behalf of Tanya Cabala, Great Lakes Consulting.
If you would like contacts for further information, please let me

Cynthia Price
Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council

Public-Private Partnership Findings:

A unique public-private partnership today is issuing a report
concluding that alternatives to coastal dune mining are potentially
available and could meet stringent specifications for foundry use.
The report, Coastal Dunes and the Auto Industry: Investigating
Alternatives to Mining, is the first official look into potential
alternatives to coastal dune mining in nearly 30 years -- and the
first ever to conclude that sources of inland sand exist that could be
an alternative to coastal dune sands.
The report was produced collaboratively by Michigan State University,
the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan
Federation), and Ford Motor Company. It was funded by the Michigan
Coastal Management Program, Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Ford Motor Company has long had a corporate policy of environmental
stewardship and has used inland sand for its casting operations since
the 1970s," according to Andrew S. Hobbs, the company's director of
environmental quality. "This collaborative project is yet one more
example of our continuing effort to make decisions that are good for
both the environment and for our business. Ford has eliminated all use
of dune sand in its auto-casting processes. Yet, additional new
sources of inland sand deposits may be viable alternatives should
further investigations confirm they are cost-effective."

The sands in coastal dunes have been used for more than a century for
a variety of purposes. The physical and chemical characteristics of
the sands, and their accessibility and convenient location to
manufacturing markets in the midwestern United States and Ontario,
Canada, have made the sands especially attractive to the foundry
industry in making metal castings for the automotive industry. In
1976, the Michigan legislature enacted the Sand Dune Protection and
Management Act to minimize the impact of mining coastal dune sand.
Coastal mining continued, however, and more than 2 million tons of
sand were mined annually between 1978 and 1999.

Dunes along Lake Michigan's shoreline have long been recognized as a
special – if not unique – natural resource. Thousands of years old,
they are the largest concentration of dunes on a freshwater system on
Earth. Considered among the lakeshore's most valued natural features,
they support numerous endangered and threatened species and are a
non-renewable resource.

"Once these magnificent natural treasures are gone, they're likely
gone for us and future generations," said Cameron Davis, president of
the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which led the effort to undertake
the study with assistance by Tanya Cabala, one of the region's
foremost experts. "They house rare species and underpin coastal
community economies. Using alternatives to Michigan's dune sand is
good for the state." Cabala agreed, saying, "These magnificent dunes
are not only recognized internationally for their ecological value,
but are also loved by citizens in shoreline communities and across the
Great Lakes for their beauty, historical significance and

The partnership focused on meeting the foundry industry's
specifications for industrial sand in automotive casting. This
included a number of factors involving the use of sand in foundries
that would govern whether an inland sand deposit might be feasible and
cost effective. These factors included: the availability of sufficient
volumes of sand of consistent quality; the proximity of a sand mine to
reliable and economical transportation; and the total delivered cost
of sand.  Other determining factors related to physical and chemical
parameters of the sand, such as grain shape and size distribution,
clay content, pH and acid demand value.

Dr. Alan Arbogast, associate professor of geography at MSU and lead
researcher of the study, said, "There appear to be several, large
volumes of sand deposits located in close proximity to existing
transportation networks that contain desirable grain shapes and grain
size distributions that could yield a sizeable supply of high-quality
sand. The results of the physical and chemical tests appear to suggest
that some sites can meet the stringent foundry sand specifications and
may even fulfill such specification criteria as well as, or better
than, samples from current foundry sand sources if testing and supply
estimates are validated." Brad Schrotenboer, a master's candidate and
project researcher, explained MSU's approach: "Because of the
availability of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), we were able
to conduct one of the most comprehensive studies of sand to date:
analyzing sand and rock layer information from hundreds of thousands
of records of wells that have been drilled in Michigan, conducting
follow-up sampling in the field, and then generating size estimates of
sand deposits across the entire state -- resulting in highly useful
maps of the state's sand resources."

The partnership is proposing a move away from the industrial use of
coastal dune sand by making a number of recommendations in its report
and, more importantly, encouraging state elected leaders to offer an
incentives package. These may include grants and loans for feasibility
studies and equipment, in addition to tax incentives for sand mining
companies that opt to switch to inland mining from coastal mining.
Such an effort, however, would likely require considerable resources
and strong initiative in the midst of challenging economic times for
the state of Michigan.

For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, please see


Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake
Michigan Federation) is the oldest citizens' Great Lakes organization
in North America. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's
largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts,
ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of
people and wildlife. More about the Alliance is online at

Tanya Cabala of Great Lakes Consulting is a freelance consultant
working primarily for environmental interest groups and agencies in
the Great Lakes region, after 14 years as an associate director for
the Lake Michigan Federation, now the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
Cabala is also a feature writer, environmental columnist, instructor,
and elected official, serving on the Whitehall City Council.

One of the "Big Three" automakers, Ford Motor Company, was founded
over a hundred years ago in Dearborn, Michigan, where its headquarters
are still located.  The company has long had a corporate policy of
environmental stewardship and since the 1970's has been a significant
user of inland sand in its casting operations.  The company also
espouses a sustainability ethic:  "Sustainable economic development is
important to the future welfare of Ford Motor Company, as well as to
society in general. To be sustainable, economic development must
provide for protection of human health and the world's environmental
resource base. It is Ford's policy that its operations, products, and
services accomplish their functions in a manner that provides
responsibly for protection of health and the environment."  Duane
Johnson, of the company's Environmental Quality Office, led Ford Motor
Company's participation in this project.

Michigan's only land grant university, Michigan State University was
established over 150 years ago in East Lansing.  Its Geography
Department, which participated in this project, conducts research on
subjects including population, migration, sustainability, global
change, Geographic Information Systems, transportation, economics,
geomorphology, soils, and climate.  Participants from MSU included Dr.
Alan Arbogast, associate professor of Geography, and Brad
Schrotenboer, intern and Master's candidate.

The federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), originally passed in
1972, enables coastal states, including Great Lakes states, to develop
a coastal management program to improve protection of sensitive
shoreline resources, to identify coastal areas appropriate for
development, to designate areas hazardous to development and to
improve public access to the coastline.  Michigan was among the first
states to have its coastal program approved in 1978, the Michigan
Coastal Management Program.

=============================================================ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"