Mining of surface deposits of zeolite will soon begin on a hillside west of Trenton in an enterprise zoning administrator Lorene Greenhalgh says could have great economic potential for the Cache Valley.

The county's planning commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Cecil Payne, who has incorporated his family business under the name Zeominex.The permit will not be issued until the commission's next meeting because a list of criteria governing mining operations in the county has not yet been approved and will have to be formally adopted.

Among the criteria is a determination that the property is not located within waterways or wetlands, that the operation will not threaten wildlife habitat and that there is proper access.

"These criteria are important because Utah State University geologists have found zeolite deposits running all the way from Trenton into southern Idaho, and other residents have already indicated they may want to mine zeolite on their land," Greenhalgh said.

Tom Willmore, attorney for Payne, said while zeolite has been used mainly for kitty litter in the past, it has been found to have a number of other uses, including as supplements in livestock feed and as an absorbent in cleaning solutions.

"It has been helpful in cleaning up hazardous waste spills and was used successfully in cleanup operations at the Three Mile Island nuclear accident," he said.

Trenton Mayor Paul Jensen presented planners with a letter from his city council supporting the mining business.