Initial work to reopen the Zavoral sand and gravel mine in Scandia will begin this week, the Tiller Corp. said Friday. The 40-month project will involve mining and reclamation on 64 acres of the 114-acre site near the intersection of Minnesota Hwys. 97 and 95.

City permits for the controversial project were granted in February after an unanimous City Council vote. Opponents had protested the mine's proximity to the protected St. Croix River as well as noise, heavy truck traffic and possible Indian burial grounds.

Permits granted to the Maple Grove company included restrictions negotiated with conservation groups. One of the more explicit amendments would prohibit Tiller from mining for fracking sand, an industry that is raising concerns up and down the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

The first stages of mine activity will include vegetation removal and preliminary grading, Tiller said. The company plans to remove 1.2 million tons of gravel.

Kevin Giles