DeSoto County rejects new Mosaic phosphate mine, surprising even mining foes
Tampa Bay Times News Roundup – Craig Pittman
Updated: July 26, 2018 at 12:41 PM
The world’s largest phosphate company, Mosaic Co., lost its bid Wednesday night to open a new mine on 18,000 acres of land near one of the state’s most pristine creeks.
After hearing impassioned testimony from hundreds of people over the course of two days, the DeSoto County Commission voted 4-1 Wednesday to reject Mosaic’s request to change the zoning on its property from agricultural to mining.
This is a link to an April 9,2018 NPR News report by Dan Charles on the growing movement in “regenerative agriculture” including cover crops and no-till land management. There have to be solutions for sustainable farming. Strip mining for phosphate fertilizers is not a sustainable way to build soil health. Fresh approaches like this are the answer.
Several 3PR members attended the Board of County Commission meeting and had important comments to make under oath to the Commissioners. Link is to the Herald Advocate newspaper report about the meeting.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An agribusiness company that turned phosphate into fertilizer must pay $1.5 million in permit fees annually to eastern Idaho tribes to store millions of tons of toxic waste on tribal lands, a federal court has ruled.
The largest fertilizer manufacturing plant in the world sits about six miles southwest of the Polk County hamlet of Mulberry, with its entrance in walking distance of the Hillsborough County line. About 800 employees work there, turning phosphate rock into nearly 5 million tons of fertilizer and animal food ingredients every year.
They also produce a lot of waste. That’s not unusual for the phosphate industry.
Drive through much of the Florida peninsula and the land you see is flat—flat as a pancake, flat as a billiard table, flat as a contestant on The Voice who’s about to get the boot. But at the Mulberry plant, and everywhere else the phosphate industry operates, you’ll see mountains. These are massive piles of waste materials called phosphogypsum that are left over from the fertilizer manufacturing process. They rise up to 200 feet high and cover some 400 acres. On top of each one is a pond of acidic water from 40 to 80 acres in size.
Many of those mountains belong to the same company that owns the Mulberry fertilizer plant, Mosaic. It’s the biggest phosphate company in the world and a major presence in Florida. Mosaic is currently mining phosphate rock on more than 70,000 of the 380,000 acres it owns in Manatee, Hillsborough, Polk and Hardee counties. Meanwhile, despite vocal public opposition, it recently won local government approval to expand its mining in Manatee County by more than 3,000 additional acres just a short drive from Sarasota County’s northern boundary—and from the source of its water supply.
Letters to the Editor
Saturday, Feb 11, 2017
Would mining activities preclude future normal uses of mined out lands? This is question #6 from the Manatee County staff report, Standards for Master Mining Approval, page 13.
The answer is much more than staff reports. Not only building, but agriculture on reclaimed land would be extremely limited. Is the burden of proof not on the applicant? The market has not demonstrated that agriculture is a viable use of reclaimed mine land.
Mosaic may have their small, intensely managed experiments with ag after mining, however, vast areas of western Polk County demonstrate no agriculture to speak of on reclaimed land. The only exception is a rare siting of a few cows on grazing land.
Go to Hardee County. In 2008, a “Mosaic Agreement” granted the county economic gurus 42 million dollars over a ten year period as compensation for the 11,000 acre South Fort Meade Extension mine. The county will tell you is for economic mitigation in the post-mining economy. This money hopes to start up industry, but the results have been questionable at best. Is this not an admission even by the industry itself that after mining and reclamation, lands will not support the former economy of agriculture.
One time, temporary use; permanent loss. Phosphate strip mining is only profitable for Mosaic. Commissioners, think ahead one hundred years. Vote for Manatee County. Vote no on phosphate mining.