In an effort to distinguish themselves among sand mining operators, four companies including U.S. Silica announced the launch of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association (WISA). U.S. Silica is currently developing a new $50-60 million facility in Sparta, Wisconsin with a capacity of 800,000 tons annually. “We’ve been in the sand mining business for more than 100 years and place a high priority on operating in a manner that protects both our employees and the communities we call home,” explained Mike Winkler, Vice President of Operations. “We’re extremely proud to be a founding member of WISA and to be a model for operational standards and industry excellence.” In addition to playing a role as an industry resource, WISA establishes a strict Code of Conduct to which all members must abide. As part of WISA, U.S. Silica aims to show that, with a proper balance between sound operations, adherence to the Code of Conduct and good community relationships, the sand mining industry can operate safely, protect the environment and continue to generate a significant and positive economic impact. At the new U.S. Silica Sparta facility, expected to open in the 2 nd quarter of 2013, neighbors and the local community were integrally involved in the planning and development of the facility. As a result, the company is making a number of investments in technologies to limit noise, light and dust on the property. They are also installing community air monitoring devices, establishing annual community advisory meetings, and using rail as the primary mode of transport. “Sand mining in Wisconsin has seen incredible growth over the past number of years, bringing with it a real range of operational approaches. Our experience gives us the opportunity to show leadership on best practices, to set the bar high and to demonstrate that sand mining can coexist with strong communities,” explained Winkler.