Morocco Plans 800 Acre Resort Hotel Funded by Fertilizer Cash

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-05/morocco-plans-800-acre-resort-hotel-funded-by-fertilizer-cash.html

By Brendan Borrell and Daniel Grushkin
Nov 5, 2010 11:15 AM ET

Béatrice Montagnier, a hotel specialist with consulting firm Horwath HTL, snapped pictures of an old warehouse and a jumble of sun-baked two-story concrete block homes outside the Moroccan town of Khouribga. It was May 2009 and Paris-based Montagnier was scoping out a planned site for an 800-acre hotel resort and museum. While she worked on details of project layout, one issue — funding — was not a concern. The estimated $1 billion needed to build the resort would come from the ground beneath her feet, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Nov. 8 issue. Khouribga and elsewhere in Morocco are home to the world’s biggest known deposits of phosphate, used in fertilizer, detergent, food additives, and more recently lithium-ion batteries. Sold for decades in its raw state for less than $50 per metric ton, it’s currently at about $125, according to World Bank figures. This is good news for Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, 47, who owns more than half the world’s phosphate reserves. Mohammed VI is the unofficial overseer of the state-owned phosphate monopoly, Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), Morocco’s largest industrial company. Most traders expect OCP to drive the commodity’s price higher, which means the cost of making everything from corn syrup to iPads will be going up. Phosphate as fertilizer is the engine powering modern agriculture, and its reserves are in decline almost everywhere except Morocco. Most phosphate mines, including those in the U.S., which produces 17 percent of global supply, have been in decline for the past decade, running out of quality rock and hindered by environmental regulation. That has forced companies to look farther afield for supplies.

Mosaic, BHP, Potash
Earlier this year, Mosaic Co. spent $385 million for a 35 percent stake in a Peruvian mine to supply rock to its phosphate operations in the U.S. and South America. Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, made a $40 billion hostile takeover offer for Canada’s Potash Corp., a major supplier of both potash and phosphate. Even a temporary phosphate shortage could affect a range of U.S. industries. Phosphate fertilizer is used on just about every crop, though most in the U.S. goes to the 13 billion bushels of corn grown each year to make everything from corn syrup to cattle feed to ethanol. The 2007-08 food crisis gives clues to how a shortage might play out. At that time, rising food prices led to riots across Africa and Asia. Before the crisis was over, China had levied a 135 percent export tariff on its phosphate to protect its domestic food supply; phosphate there is still taxed at 110 percent at the height of the buying season.

85% of World’s Total
The scale of Morocco’s phosphate wealth was officially verified in September, when the International Fertilizer Development Center released its long-awaited update on global phosphate resources. Morocco’s portion went from the 5.7 billion tons still cited in U.S. Geologic Survey reports, to 50 billion tons — 85 percent of the world’s total. Even with 170 million tons of concentrated phosphate changing hands each year, the Moroccans likely have at least 300 to 400 years of rock available.

Talal Zouaoui, OCP’s director of communications, won’t agree or disagree with estimates, but says in an e-mail that Morocco has “significant reserves,” and notes that reserves denote only those quantities that countries have discovered and deem economically viable to extract. With a growing world population consuming more grain, more meat, and more biofuels, demand is expected to rise at a rate of 2 percent to 3 percent per year, according to the International Fertilizer Association. Dana Cordell, co-founder of the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, predicts that phosphate production will “peak” within the next 50 years.

Fertilizer, Coca-Cola
Not all phosphate becomes fertilizer: about 15 percent is turned into detergents or food additives, such as the tangy phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola, or the moisture-retaining salts in salami.
OCP controls 30 percent of global phosphate exports, and plans to increase annual production from 30 million tons to 54 million tons by 2015, investing $5 billion in the process. By that time, Prayon SA, a Belgian phosphate processor in which OCP owns a 50 percent stake, believes demand for phosphate as a component of the lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles could exceed demand for it in detergent. At September’s World Fertilizer Conference in San Francisco, Morocco’s ascendancy was the main topic of conversation.

Hotel Hopping
Asked about OCP, trader Mark Mangassarian answered with a question: “Oh, you mean the guys who are trying to drive up phosphate prices the most?” Mangassarian, who is assistant vice-president for sales at Nitron International in Stamford, Conn., spent three days doing deals at the San Francisco conference hopping from suite to suite at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square. Though the industry average for diammonium phosphate fertilizer has hovered around $500 this summer, the executives he sat down with weren’t willing to go below $550. A few weeks later, Mangassarian came to see it their way, and is paying $560. OCP’s tough negotiating tactics have irritated many in the industry. “You try to talk to them, and they don’t answer. They’ve always been like that. That’s their strategy,” says Taoufik Meddeb, who buys sulfur for Groupe Chimique Tunisien, another state-owned company and OCP’s biggest competitor in North Africa. “God just put the phosphate there,” said Jamal Bensari, a member of OCP’s delegation. “It is our only resource, and it is our responsibility.” ‘Quasi-Impossible’ OCP’s current communications director Zouaoui declined to arrange interviews for Bloomberg Businessweek following multiple requests in September and October. “It is quasi-impossible right now,” he explained. In a separate e-mail, he also noted that OCP is “subject to customary international governance standards for a global corporation, including transparency and accountability.”

Mohammed VI, called the King of the Poor for his efforts to raise Morocco’s living standards, has about $2 billion in assets, which places him seventh on Forbes’ list of the richest royals. That’s far behind Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai but well ahead of the Prince of Monaco. Although he is not technically the head of state, he has control of the country as both a secular and religious leader. He appoints the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and has the power to overrule or dissolve the elected Parliament. His portrait adorns the first page of OCP’s annual reports, and his face appears in nearly every home and coffee shop. The Moroccan Embassy did not respond to requests for interviews with the King.

Disputed Territory
Western Sahara is a disputed territory. It’s also where Morocco’s best phosphate lies. The region known to the King as “Moroccan Sahara” begins just south of the fishing village of Tarfaya on the Atlantic coast. The UN calls it “the non-self- governing territory of Western Sahara” and deems it “occupied.” It’s a place where phosphate rumbles to the coast on the world’s longest conveyor belt, while tanks and soldiers roam alongside, defending the shipments from Sahrawi separatists.
When Spain withdrew from Western Sahara in 1975, some 350,000 Moroccans marched into the region with tents on their backs. The native Sahrawi fought back for 16 years under the leadership of the Algerian-backed Polisario rebels, signing a cease-fire in 1991. The UN continues to monitor the agreement with 215 uniformed peacekeepers, but a planned vote on self- determination has been repeatedly delayed. Today, approximately 90,000 Sahrawi live in refugee camps in Algeria, separated from their families in Moroccan-controlled territory by a 1,400-mile- long berm dotted with land mines.

Land Mines
OCP reports that just 2 percent of Morocco’s phosphate lies in the Phousboucraa mine at Bou Craa in Western Sahara, and that it accounts for 6 percent of sales. Companies in Australia and Norway have said they no longer use phosphate mined in Western Sahara. In August, Mosaic told the advocacy group Western Sahara Resource Watch that it has stopped buying rock from the territory. The U.S., in addition to needing the phosphate, sees Morocco as an ally in the war against terrorism. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed U.S. support for Morocco’s plan of “limited autonomy” for the territory, which stops short of the independence demanded by the Polisario.

Private Riads
Montagnier finished her consulting contract last year, but her employer, Horwath, has a small office in Rabat and is working on other projects. The King opened the Royal Mansour Marrakech hotel this year, with private riads — the traditional style of home with a courtyard and garden — going for $2,200 per night. For Khouribga, Montagnier has settled on three stars for the hotel, but says the final room tally awaits approval by OCP. Architects put the total price on the project, known as Mine Verte, at 665 million euros ($937 million). “Khouribga is the world capital of phosphates,” says Founoun Mohammed, 48, a subcontractor overseeing the first stages of a pipeline that will deliver phosphate in slurry form from Khouribga to the port of Jorf Lasfar south of Casablanca, 146 miles away. After work he settles down at the back of a favorite restaurant and talks business over seafood paella. A bottle of Moroccan wine is not to his liking, and he orders a French red for the table. “People will come from Europe, the United States, everywhere to see Khouribga. It will raise the level of the city.” He is in high spirits and pours a glass of wine for the waiter, who tosses it back in a single gulp. Mohammed says he loves his country: He is safe and has a good job, what else can he ask for? “The King,” he says, “is a gentleman.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Brendan Borrell at bborrell@nasw.org; Daniel Grushkin through Bryant Urstadt in New York at burstadt@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net

3PR Letter to Ledger: Mosaic’s Permit Was Deficient

To Editor
The Lakeland Ledger
October 21, 2010
Yeah, phosphate mining’s been part of Bartow’s life and culture for nearly a century – and it permanently destroyed your most precious resource: Kissengen Springs. So why should we stand by and watch that destruction to the lower Peace River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary?

If Mr. Ron Kelly “understands what he reads” then he would know that know that the reason there is a court injunction on Mosaic’s S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension is precisely because the Army Corps of Engineers’ Dredge and Fill (404) Permit was determined to be deficient in several areas by a federal court judge. If Mosaic’s permit was so perfect then why did the judge determine to grant a preliminary injunction stating: “Mosaic’s alternatives analysis, as well as the Corps verification of the same, was incomplete.” The injunction was ordered because the court understands that it is not in the public interest to destroy wetlands unnecessarily and that even if wetland restoration is successful (EPA says it is not) there is a time lag of a decade or more between mining and restoration.

It is ridiculous to direct his anger at Mr. Huber, the environmental plaintiff’s attorney based in Colorado. (Remember Mosaic’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, and their CEO is a Canadian). The lawsuit was filed locally by Sierra Club, represented in Polk, Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties; by 3PR based in Wauchula; and by Manasota-88 based in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. The destruction of wetlands in Hardee County will have its effect on freshwater flows to Charlotte Harbor 80 miles downstream which is the base of the coastal counties’ economy as well as a source of drinking water.

I have been involved in this lawsuit from its inception. Mosaic was offered a portion of the S. Ft. Meade Extension mine to continue operating. It was their choice to refuse it. The environmental plaintiffs offered to mediate before the preliminary injunction was ordered. Mosaic refused. When mediation negotiations finally began and an agreement to allow mining to begin was imminent Mosaic filed another motion in court derailing the process. Now Mr. Huber is preoccupied responding to Mosaic’s latest motion to stay – he is no longer available to negotiate a settlement.

Mr. Huber was correct: If Mosaic employees are laid off it’s due to the choices of the Mosaic management and legal team, and has nothing to do with him and the environmental plaintiffs.

According to the latest Rate of Reclamation Report, issued by the state, only 4% of the existing S. Fort Meade Mine has been reclaimed and released. When deep water drilling was shut down for spewing oil all over the Gulf of Mexico they kept their workers busy cleaning and upgrading equipment. Why can’t Mosaic do the same? Mosaic made around $300 million profit in the last financial quarter – yet they lay off workers while their insufficient permit is adjudicated. (Wake up, phosphate workers! Profits over People)

Mosaic’s Dredge and Fill permit was deficient according to a federal court. They have to answer to the public for that the same way you would if your building didn’t pass inspection.

Please visit our website for more information on phosphate mining’s effect on the aquifers of central Florida: www.protectpeaceriver.org

Dennis Mader
President 3PR (People for Protecting Peace River Inc)
Wauchula, FL

Read Ron Kelly’s letter below:

The Lakeland Ledger

Published: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 11:48 p.m.
I’m writing to take issue with comments made by Eric Huber of the Sierra Club in the latest article about the club’s litigation to stop mining at Mosaic’s South Fort Meade mine.
Mr. Huber, the Sierra Club’s attorney, claims that it is Mosaic’s fault that the workers at South Fort Meade may lose their jobs. I find it ironic that a Sierra Club attorney from Colorado, who represents the organization whose lawsuit precipitated this entire situation, wants us to believe the Sierra Club is not responsible. Do he and his partners in San Francisco who initiated this lawsuit really believe the residents of Polk County are that gullible?
Polk County residents understand phosphate mining. It’s been a part of our lives and culture for more than a century. When we read articles about phosphate in the paper, we understand what we read.
It’s clear to us that this was a very thorough permitting process and that Mosaic went to great lengths to make sure the permit was protective of the environment. Apparently, the Sierra Club thinks it can point the finger at Mosaic and we’ll all go along with it. We’re smarter than that and we know they are responsible for the Polk County residents that are losing their jobs as a result of the lawsuit.
Mosaic has been a great supporter of so many organizations and good causes in Polk County and now they deserve our support. Mosaic employees are our friends and neighbors.
It appears that the Sierra Club is not happy with just putting some of them out of work, it also feels it necessary to attack their character. I, for one, cannot let that go unanswered.
RON KELLY
Bartow

3PR News: Sarasota County Preps for EIS scoping process….

Sarasota County’s assistant attorney, David Pearce, sent a lengthy memorandum to Water Resource Manager, Jack Merriam, outlining the legal parameters of the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) recently undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers. The following “connected actions” were excerpted from the memo. They describe the environmental impacts of phosphate mining and fertilizer manufacturing. The entire memo will soon be posted on the 3PR website www.protectpeaceriver.org

1. Connected Actions – Site Preparation
2. Connected Actions – Topsoil and Muck Removal, Storage, and Redistribution
3. Connected Actions – Severing Connection to Surficial Aquifer and Dewatering
4. Connected Actions – Uplands and Isolated Wetlands
5. Connected Actions – Operation of Beneficiation Plants
6. Connected Actions – Consumptive Use of Water
Connection Actions – Waste Water Discharge
8. Connected Actions – Waste Management
9. Connected Actions – Phosphogypsum Stacks

Click to read entire article

The Mosaic Company Reports Strong Fiscal Year 2010 Fourth Quarter Earnings Growth

Page 1/13 8/26/2010
The Mosaic Company Reports Strong Fiscal Year 2010 Fourth Quarter Earnings Growth
July 22, 2010 4:21 PM ET
PLYMOUTH, Minn., July 22, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ —

The Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) announced today net earnings of $396.1 million, or $0.89 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended May 31, 2010. These results compare with net earnings of $146.9 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended May 31, 2009.

KEY ITEMS
Total phosphate sales volumes were 2.3 million tonnes and the average diammonium phosphate (DAP) selling pricewas $438 per tonne Potash sales volumes rebounded from 0.6 million tonnes a year ago to 1.8 million tonnes and the average muriate of potash (MOP) selling price was $336 per tonne
Gross margin as a percent of net sales improved to 37 percent, compared to 13 percent in the prior year. Foreign currency transaction losses were $0.6 million versus losses of $297.9 million, or $0.42 per share last year Income tax expense was $138.8 million compared to a benefit of $330.3 million a year ago Cash flow from operating activities was $532.1 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 an improvement of $226.3 million from the prior year

The Company maintained a strong financial position with cash and cash equivalents of $2.5 billion as of May 31, 2010 A recently issued permit for an extension of Mosaic’s South Fort Meade phosphate rock mine is being challenged in Federal court. If a preliminary injunction requested by the plaintiffs is granted, the Company’s phosphate operations could be impacted Mosaic had net sales in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 of $1.9 billion, an increase from $1.6 billion, or 17 percent, compared to the same period last year. Mosaic’s gross margin for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 was $687.6 million, or 37 percent of net sales, compared with $204.1 million, or 13 percent of net sales, a year ago. Fourth quarter operating earnings were $547.6 million, an improvement of $421.3 million over the prior year. The increases in gross margin and operating earnings were primarily due to improved phosphates selling prices, lower sulfur costs and increased potash sales volumes, partially offset by lower potash selling prices. “We are pleased with our strong fourth quarter results,” said Jim Prokopanko, Mosaic’s President, and Chief Executive Officer. “Crop nutrient application rates and shipments have snapped back from last year’s levels and a strong recovery in both the phosphates and potash markets is underway.”

Phosphates
Net sales in the Phosphates segment were $1.2 billion for the fourth quarter, comparable to the prior year. Phosphates’ fourth quarter gross margin was $306.6 million, or 26 percent of net sales, compared with a loss of $31.9 million for the same period a year ago. Operating earnings were $221.1 million, an increase of $300.3 million over the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, primarily due to higher selling prices and lower sulfur costs. In addition, fiscal 2009 fourth quarter results included a $61.4 million inventory lower of cost or market write-down. The average fourth quarter DAP selling price, FOB plant, was $438 per tonne, compared to $365 a year ago and $336 in the
third quarter of fiscal 2010. Phosphates segment total sales volumes were 2.3 million tonnes, compared to 2.5 million tons a year ago. Declines in International and Blend crop nutrient volumes from the year-ago quarter were partially offset by an increase in North American crop nutrient demand. Mosaic’s North American phosphate production was 1.9 million tonnes compared with 2.0 million tons a year ago.

3PR News: China, India, Saudi Arabia, Syria Enter Phosphate Market – Prices go UP!

http://www.thestreet.com/story/10882248/1/rising-grain-futures-push-phosphate-prices.html

By Leia Michele Toovey- Exclusive to Potash Investing News

Concerns about adverse weather in western Canada and Russia are sending grain futures on a rally. This is good news for diammonium phosphate and other phosphate based fertilizer prices. Since June, rising grain prices have propelled the price for the crop nutrient to new highs, with phosphate prices averaging $431 over the past quarter, 55 percent more than the previous year-on-year period. Diammonium phosphate, for immediately delivery, has increased 66 percent this year. Increasing demand, combined with declining stockpiles has prompted China to mull export restrictions in order to protect their much needed domestic supply. Record breaking shipments over the summer have caused a dramatic decline in China’s domestic inventories. “Government officials are increasingly concerned about the availability of phosphate products for domestic farmers and are closely monitoring the situation,” said Mike Rahm, Mosaic’s Chief Marketing Strategist. “We believe officials will take whatever measures are necessary, including more restrictive export policies, to ensure adequate supplies of competitively priced phosphate for domestic farmers.” Demand for fertilizers will grow over the next 40 years as a larger and increasingly wealthy world population consumes more meat and eggs, said David Dawe, a senior economist with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Food and energy prices increasingly will be linked with potentially high fuel costs, spurring fertilizer use as farmers seek greater efficiency. Agricultural output will need to rise faster than the supply of arable land, forcing farmers to seek greater crop yields, he added.

Credit Suisse lifted its forecast for both nitrogen and phosphate prices over the next two years following the rise in crop prices. Projections for prices for potash, the other of the big three nutrients, were kept at previous levels, foreseeing a gentle rise through 2011 and 2012. However, while even Credit Suisse’s upgraded hopes for phosphate implied a decline in prices from current levels of $525 to 550 a tonne, its outlook for nitrogen implied continued gains.

Output Expansion
Saudi Arabian Mining Co, the state-run producer, may double phosphates output at a venture it’s developing with Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the world’s largest petrochemicals maker. The partners plan to bring a 2.9 million tonnes a year diammonium phosphate plant at Ras al Zour on the Arabian Gulf coast into operation early next year, according to Khaled Al Mudaifer, vice president for phosphates at Saudi Arabian Mining. The partners will initially market ammonia produced at the $5.5 billion facility before eventually using the feedstock to produce twice the amount of diammonium phosphate. Saudi Arabia is looking to expand fertilize production in order to meet rising food demand. Saudi Arabia will be able to produce about 18 percent of the world’s diammonium phosphate once the Ras al-Zour plant is complete, Saudi Basic’s Al Sheaibi said yesterday. Saudi Basic, known as Sabic, will market most products from the plant for its first five years. Ma’aden will own a 70 percent stake in the Ras al Zour plant with Sabic holding the rest. Ma’aden will supply minerals from the kingdom’s interior.

Syria and India have signed a memo of understanding to develop the fertilizer industry in Syria in order to produce phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizers to cover the needs of both the Syrian and the Indian markets. According to the memo, the two sides will promote multi-benefit projects according to their feasibility study. The two sides also agreed on signing an executive program to produce phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizers in Syria. They also agreed on establishing factories for producing phosphoric acid in Syria with the possibility of selling the surplus to the Indian side at global price. The Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sufian Allao pointed out that the memo aims at increasing the amount of the produced phosphate in Syria to reach 10 million tons per year, saying “the production is currently at 4 million tonnes. Syria has large reserves of phosphate, about 1.8 billion tonnes, the reserves amount can also be increased with intensified exploration operations.” The cost of the project is estimated at US$15 million, funded by the Indian company Zuari, which is in charge of the project.

DeSoto County Sets Stage for Environmental Headaches (DeSoto Sun Herald Op-Ed 06/09/10)

… as county commissions in Hardee and DeSoto Counties open their doors to expanded phosphate mining operations in the Peace River watershed we are inviting degradation in our own backyards….

As crude oil from the BP/Deepwater Horizon well pours inexorably into the sensitive environment of the Gulf of Mexico, remember that only a few weeks ago Florida was debating the possibility of allowing off-shore drilling along its coast. The environmental community staunchly recommended against it – because the consequences of the environmental damage associated with off-shore drilling were an unacceptable risk to the economy as well as the environment of our beautiful state.

Likewise, as county commissions in Hardee and DeSoto Counties open their doors to expanded phosphate mining operations in the Peace River watershed we are inviting a similar kind of degradation to occur in our own backyards. A recent editorial in The DeSoto Sun complimented a decision by the county commission to approve a mining overlay which more than doubles the amount of land in the Pine Level area on both sides of Horse Creek that are designated for phosphate strip mining (an additional 17,000 acres). This decision by the commissioners has unquestionably legitimized the presence of Mosaic phosphate company in their midst and moved the county one step closer to strip mining operations with no regard for the recommendation of their advisory board or the will of their people.

We are told these days of wide-spread disenchantment with incumbent politicians who are oblivious to the will of their constituents. It could not have been any more obvious than at the May 25 Hearing in Arcadia when public sentiment was overwhelmingly opposed to the approval of the comp plan amendment allowing for additional mining by the people who live in the Pine Level community. As always we were reminded repeatedly that the amendment would not allow mining, and that there will be a rigorous DRI process before mining can actually be permitted. Yet, on the other hand, had the DeSoto Commissioners denied the expansion of the mining overlay that night, the door would have been closed on phosphate strip mining in the county – precluding a DRI.

The Sun Herald editorial extols the record of mine reclamation since 1975. In fact only 28% of all of Mosaic’s mined land has fulfilled total reclamations requirements. 37% is suitable only for “industrial” standards – that is, development like waste disposal and power plants. Mined land is no longer suitable for productive agriculture which is historically the basis of the DeSoto County economy. Reclaimed soil is substandard and is typically overgrown with cogon grass which is non-native and unsuitable for cattle forage. There is no denying that at least 40% of mined lands will end up as clay slime disposal – which is unsuitable for construction and agriculture, and considered by the US EPA as a “permanent impact” on the Peace River watershed. According to the Soil Suitability Index “where reclaimed overburden and sand tailing landforms are situated in the path of urban growth, and real estate values are elevated…  such lands may be viewed as developable. Little if any urban development has taken place on waste clay disposal sites, which is understandable given the extreme physical shortcomings of clays as support for foundations.” This would explain why the vast majority of old phosphate land, even that which has been “reclaimed,” lies fallow and abandoned. Most of it is uneconomical for any kind of development.

To contend that the phosphate controversy is “not real,” as the Sun editorial apparently does, is naïve and inattentive. There is an abundance of scientific documentation on the negative effects of mining on the watersheds, agriculture, and urban development by the US Geological Survey, the EPA, DEP, and Water Management District. I suggest your readers go to Google Maps and check out the landscape from Ft. Green to Bradley Junction. Have a good look at what phosphate strip mining has done. All the water entrapped in those mine cuts and clay slime impoundments is water that once contributed to the aquifer which supplies our rivers and coasts. Also check out the 3PR website www.protectpeaceriver.org to consult the studies and other evidence that support our case against the phosphate industry.

Dennis Mader

President 3PR (People for Protecting Peace River)

Ona, FL

DeSoto County P&Z Board Deny Mosaic Foothold-May 5, 2010

Nothing less than a historical victory for the Peace River Watershed was won last night!  In an opening volley of what is sure to be an ongoing battle to preserve and protect the Peace River and its attendant watershed and nearby environs, the will of the people was honored.

On Tuesday, May 4th, during a public hearing before the DeSoto County Board of Adjustments and Planning, a diverse group of Floridians, including a courageous 16 year old boy,  an implacable Octogenarian Matriarch, a nationally recognized economist and a local photographer, spoke out in ways simple and complex against the adoption of a General Phosphate Mining Overlay prepared by Mosaic that would have opened the door to eventual strip mining of approximately 26,000 +/- acres in the fragile ecosystem of the Pine Level/Big Slough watersheds.

The wonderful news is that the Board listened attentively enough to the numerous people that spoke against the amendment of the Future Land Use Map, that they voted 5-2 to deny initial transmittal of Mosaic’s request to the Department of Community Affairs!

This important decision will be at the center of further discussion when the DeSoto County Commissioners meet to consider the same proposal on May 25, 2010.

We the People of this region are the only voice the Peace River has.  We have the power and the responsibility to halt the expansion of the ravages of phosphate strip mining that has made an uninhabitable “moonscape” of huge portions of Polk, Hillsborough, Manatee and portions of Hardee Counties.

It up to us to make sure that DeSoto County remains pristine and beautiful and that the unsound mining practices of the multinational conglomerate that is Mosaic, never, ever has the opportunity to creep into DeSoto county to wreak permanent environmental destruction on our River, creeks, farms and groves.

This, our collective and mutual, Home, is precious and unique in Florida.  The Peace River is the lifeblood, the primary artery that feeds and sustains us all.  Let us, each and everyone, whether a public servant or private steward be informed of all the facts available so as to make an informed choice of how our Peace River is sustained and protected for generations to come.

The preservation and protection of a time honored way of life is at stake.  The proposed “mining overlay” that Mosaic has cobbled together with the help of DeSoto County staff, is nothing less than a death warrant for our way of life.

A coalition of several area citizen groups, including Protect Our Watersheds, Sierra Florida, ManaSota-88 and People for Protecting Peace River (3PR) submitted to DeSoto County a 7 page letter, along with a table of 11 Exhibits, that gives an excellent overview of concerns about the impacts of phosphate mining on our environment and on the health and well being of our communities.

Since these documents were submitted to become part of the public record they are available for your inspection.  I urge every Citizen in the area to “Get the Real Story” of the permanent, irreversible destruction of our watershed that a “Phosphate Mining Overlay” would usher in.

You may also review this document and others that pertain to this critical issue on the People for Protecting Peace River website:

http://www.protectpeaceriver.org/

Please mark your calendars and tell everyone you know to join you at the next meeting of the DeSoto County Commissioners on Tuesday, May 25, 2010.  Let our voices ring in the halls of our Elected officials: Tell them:  We the People, don’t want phosphate strip mining in DeSoto County!

See you there!

Respectfully submitted:

Genny Lee Hendry

Community Liaison

3PR

863-993-3249

DeSoto Overlay Letter

This excellent letter was drafted on behalf of a coalition of concerned environmental organizations (Protect our Watersheds, Sierra Florida, Manasota-88, and 3PR) by Percy Angelo of the Sierra Club Phosphate Committee. It was submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commissioners and the Board of County Commissioners of DeSoto County, Florida, in preparing for a series of hearings that would include 26,000 acres of farmland in Desoto County in the Generalized Mining Overlay. This is the first step in preparing for a local mine permit. Anyone interested in a point by point outline of the case against phosphate mine expansion in central Florida should check this out.

New Altman Tract Photos

Below are some recent photographs of the Four Corners phosphate mine (Altman Tract) – located at the intersection of State Roads 62 and 37 – about 25 miles south of Mulberry. Mosaic fought Manatee County for 8 years to mine these wetlands that are the remaining headwaters of Horse Creek, a major tributary of the Peace River. The Manatee County Commission, upon recommendation for their staff, first denied the Development Order. Mosaic threatened to sue Manatee County for $675,000,000. After an election when two new commissioners were seated, Manatee County capitulated and approved the development order in a revote. Now the only thing standing between the phosphate giant and the mining of these precious wetlands is a Federal lawsuit of the Army Corps of Engineers by Sierra Club, 3PR, Manasota – 88, and the Gulf Restoration Coalition.

The photos were taken by George Chase from an experimental light sport plane.

Line in the Sand – US EPA Calls for Area-wide Impact Study for S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension

Line in the Sand – US EPA Calls for Area-wide Impact Study for S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension

In their letter the EPA reminded the Corps that the Peace River watershed is of special importance to both the state and the federal government, and that EPA has stated in documents dating back to the summer of 2007 that “…this mine expansion project, as well as any proposed mining projects within the Peace River phosphate region, a current, area-wide Environmental Impact Statement is most needed in order to address the extensive cumulative impacts and changes to these watersheds due to the phosphate mining industry.