Letter to the Arcadian – The Future After Phosphate Mining

An excellent letter by Candace Lawless. A vision of the results of relentless mining of phosphate and the devastating effects on all we hold dear.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

No more sitting outside

To the Editor

I am a 30-year resident of Hidden Acres. You ask how I think phosphate mining will affect me. For all these years the threat has loomed over us. At my age, I will probably not see the devastation first hand. The first thing to go will be the well, as the mining sucks the water up. The polluted dust will be everywhere, AC a must at all times. No more sitting outside.

The rumble noise will be a constant irritant. The creek will just die; if we are lucky, it will dry up—the alternative is total poisoning when it floods any land the flooding touches … and it will flood. The birds will be gone, the bees and insects gone. Without them, the plants will go next.

Pine Level, which is a particularly pretty area, will be a moonscape. After reclamation, it will never ever be the same. I’ve been to Mulberry via (CR) 663 to (SR) 37; I have seen the strange landscape there. I first saw the moonscape up near 14 years ago when my job had me traveling the state. What a shock! The children’s lives will be the worst, the cancer, the shortened lifespans, the breathing problems.

I have told people I will probably never set foot into the bribery arena; I feel strongly that the people are being sold out.

Candace Lawless

Arcadia

Kissingen Spring

At one time the Historic Kissengen Spring discharged up to 20 million gallons of water a day into the Peace River. The spring’s pool was 200 feet in diameter and reached a depth of 17 feet above the spring vent.

Its boil reportedly was so powerful that the strongest swimmer could not reach it. Archaeological evidence shows this area of the Peace River was inhabited by Native Americans who established large villages near the river’s springs. In the late 1800s developers sought to acquire the spring as a resort destination and sanatorium. Although plans for rail lines, trolleys, and boats never were realized to exploit the spring for tourism, a dance floor, dive platform, and bathhouses were built, and thousands of locals and tourists visited over 75 years.

In the 1930s the popular spring was the site of major political rallies. During World War II, it served as a rest and recuperation resort for members of the military based near Bartow. The spring ceased to be a tourist destination after its groundwater was captured for other uses.

The spring vent was plugged in 1962, and it ceased to flow again. Read more here.

To learn more about the destruction of aquifers and running dry, read the USGS research here.

We Believe That

  • The Peace River Heartland, a name for the area of central Florida which includes Hardee, DeSoto, Manatee and Charlotte Counties, has a unique, much varied, and valuable character. If this area is to be discovered by future generations, it must be preserved.
  • The safety and well-being of the citizens of our area is more important than the profits of the phosphate industry.
  • The preservation of native and agricultural lands is of great importance for our well-being, but even more, for the well-being of those who would live here in the future.
  • Permanent alteration of our land is not corrected by reclamation or mitigation, as the soils and aquifers are so extremely rearranged.
  • What goes into the ground here in the Peace and Myakka River watersheds can potentially end up in our wells or in Charlotte Harbor at the end of the stream.
  • Industrial chemicals have no place in our soils with our near surface aquifers.
  • We have a responsibility to all future generations to leave our natural environment as intact, rich and varied as we found it, if not better.
  • Someone must care. This means that a value beyond money must prevail.
  • That profit and preservation can coexist. This is Florida, a land of tourism, and we are part of it.
  • The Peace River Heartland, known to the phosphate industry as “Bone Valley“, has a unique natural and agricultural character which has many superior alternatives to phosphate strip mining.

Mosaic Closes Mine As Profits Plummet 70% Nov. 2013

Mosaic, one of Minnesota’s 10 largest public companies, said its revenue fell almost 30 percent last quarter; its stock, meanwhile, has dropped nearly 20 percent in 2013.

by Kevin Mahoney
November 5, 2013

The Mosaic Company said Tuesday that its third-quarter profit fell 70 percent and that it is closing one of its potash mines in Michigan.

The Plymouth-based potash and phosphate fertilizer provider announced that net earnings for the third quarter, which ended September 30, totaled $124.4 million, or $0.29 per share, down from $417.4 million, or $0.98 per share, during the same period in 2012. Earnings per share were $0.05 lower than what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected.

Revenue, meanwhile, totaled $1.91 billion, down about 28 percent from $2.65 billion in the third quarter of 2012. Third-quarter revenue fell short of analysts’ projections of $1.97 billion.

Shares of Mosaic’s stock were trading down about 1.65 percent at $45.96 Tuesday afternoon, and they are down roughly 19 percent this year.

President and CEO Jim Prokopanko blamed the weak quarterly results on lower potash and phosphate prices, a late North American fall season, and cautious dealer behavior.

“We believe the current challenges in the environment in which we operate, for both phosphate and potash, are cyclical in nature and provide Mosaic opportunities to deploy capital, including shareholder distributions,” Prokopanko said in a statement. “The long-term outlook for Mosaic remains compelling.”

In addition to closing a mine in Michigan, the company said it would be exiting the “underperforming” Argentina and Chile distribution businesses, to focus more heavily on its growing business in Brazil.

Prokopanko said the company expects pricing to remain challenging going into 2014 and that international demand, especially in India and China, remains unpredictable.

Mosaic is among Minnesota’s 10 largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $11.1 billion in its most recently completed fiscal year.

Stop Mosaic in Their Tracks

On Thursday, February 2, at 9 am, Mosaic Phosphate will go before the Manatee Board of County Commissioners to ask for another permit to mine in eastern Manatee County.  The permit would allow Mosaic to mine 661 acres and destroy another 50 acres of wetlands.  Our Planning Commission voted in favor of this permit and now it goes before the Board and this is where it must stop.

This $3.9 billion cash corporation has severely mined Central Florida (over one million acres) and is now coming south into Northeast Manatee County and our Peace River and Myakka River watersheds.  They draw 65 million gallons of water a day from our already declining aquifer, while we are on water restrictions. This water that they are stealing from the state is non-replaceable and will come to tremendous cost to us all.

Don’t be deceived by their showy ads on TV and their jobs claim.  Mosaic provides fewer workers per acre, than any other industry. They are currently spending millions of dollars monthly on advertising to convince you that they are doing a good thing.  Why would a company advertise so much and put large billboards on 301 when they do not sell their product to you?  They want to conceal the negative aspects of their operations which add billions of dollars of cleanup in its wake.

The Federal Courts have insisted Mosaic STOP any further mining until a complete and thorough Area-wide Environmental Impact Study (AEIS) has been performed. Evidently, Mosaic is in fear of the outcome, as they chose to circumvent the rules by attempting to secure another mine before the truth comes out.

Please stop Mosaic in their tracks, have the wisdom and courage that The Planning Commission lacked, and find out the real story.

Mosaic and their consenting codependents are counting on the apathy of Manatee citizens to get their way. Please, please, make an effort to show-up on Feb. 2, at 1112 Manatee Avenue, First Floor Commission Chambers and STOP this from going any further. We need to fill the chambers. You may or may not speak, but fill a chair.

We can’t leave our kids with enough of anything to fix what Mosaic is getting away with.

Wingate Mine Extension Approved by Manatee Planning Commission

Mosaic request gets nod of Manatee planning panel
Planners give preliminary OK to mine extension

http://www.bradenton.com/2012/01/13/3788734/mosaic-request-gets-nod-of-panel.html

By SARA KENNEDY – skennedy@bradenton.com

MANATEE — A plan to extend a phosphate mine over 661 acres of East Manatee won preliminary approval Thursday from the Manatee County Planning Commission.

Commission members heard a presentation from the applicant, Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, and from a few opponents, before voting unanimously in favor of two resolutions that would allow extension of the Wingate Creek Mine, west of Duette Road and north of State Road 64.

Speaking in favor of the plan was Bartley E. Arrington, Mosaic’s manager of mine permitting, who said that about 598 acres would be mined, and about 50 acres of wetlands and surface water areas would be disturbed — but replaced — once mining is finished.

Officials said the extension of the mine would pose no problem for nearby residents from noise, light, air pollution and other byproducts of the industrial process, a neighbor who lives in a subdivision more than a mile away said he frequently experiences too much noise and light already.

“You can sit on my front porch and listen to that mine operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said John R. Henslick, a senior scientist for ECo Consultants Inc., of Sarasota.

“People stop the conversation and ask: ‘What is that noise?’” said Henslick.

Henslick complimented the company on the job it does, and said he didn’t mind the mine. But he added he thought there were steps it could take to improve or lessen the impact on its neighbors.

Others also objected to Mosaic’s request.

Linda Jones wondered if the company was on schedule for other reclamation projects it has in the works. A county staffer said it was on schedule at all of its Manatee County sites.

Sandra Ripberger said she was “very concerned” about the 50 acres of wetland the project would displace, adding, “Mosaic has not shown it can re-create wetlands to function as well as they did originally.”

She also wondered whether the mine would degrade the Myakka River, noting that parts of it in Sarasota have been named by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as “Outstanding Florida Waters,” providing special protection due to its natural attributes. The Florida Legislature also designated a 34-mile Sarasota portion a “Florida Wild and Scenic River.”

However, the river’s north end in Manatee County carries neither designation, according to Charlie Hunsicker, county director of natural resources. The river arises at the Flatford Swamp, north of Myakka City, and flows southwest through eastern Manatee, then via Sarasota and Charlotte counties to the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

Mosaic, among the world’s leading makers of phosphate and potash crop nutrients, is seeking a master plan authorizing mining and reclamation; a waiver of the setback requirement for mining adjacent to the county’s Duette Preserve; and approval of a build-out date for mining of Dec. 31, 2019, and reclamation until Dec. 31, 2023.

The company also has requested a rezoning of 645.9 acres from General Agriculture to the Extraction zoning district, according to county records.

The Manatee County Commission is slated to make the final decision at 9 a.m., Feb. 2 at the County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031
Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/01/13/3788734/mosaic-request-gets-nod-of-panel.html#storylink=cpy

Mosaic Seeks to Expand Wingate Mine

Manatee phosphate mine expansion advances

By Halle Stockton

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 4:10 p.m.

MANATEE COUNTY – Mosaic Fertilizer plans to expand its phosphate mining operations on more than 3,000 acres of Duette pastureland, east of an existing 7,300-acre tract that has been mined since the 1970s.

But while the new land is tied up in a federal environmental study, Mosaic has gone to Manatee County to get started on a separate 600-acre extension located between State Road 64 and State Road 62.

On Thursday, the Manatee County Planning Commission gave preliminary approval to the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate to extend its Wingate Creek Mine operation.

Local environmental groups and a Duette resident opposed the extension, arguing that the existing mine already threatens park land and rivers, and degrades the rural landscape with constant noise and light.

“It is a historical mistake,” said ManaSota-88 Chairman Glenn Compton. “To expand upon an existing mistake is irresponsible.”

Mosaic contends that its operations are safe, environmentally viable and provide the county with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact.

“It’s unfortunate that these groups would like to derail the permit, those jobs and that economic output based on concerns that really aren’t relevant for what the permit contemplates,” said Mosaic spokesman Russell Schweiss. “The mine has operated for 30 years without detriment to the downstream water bodies they are concerned about.”

The Manatee County Commission will make the final decision on the Wingate extension at its Feb. 2 meeting.

Mosaic is unable to mine 3,000 acres southeast of the Wingate Mine and cross over Duette Road until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes an environmental impact study in about a year.

If approved, mining at the 600-acre extension would begin in 2014.

Mosaic is seeking permits now in anticipation of any delays. Streamlining the process could prevent the mine from shutting down and laying off workers as mine reserves run out, Schweiss said.

The existing mine employs 130 people and provides $19 million in annual wages, the company said. An economic report projected the extension of the mine would generate an average of about 300 jobs annually for six years.

The Mosaic mine would destroy 49 acres of wetlands; the company says it would replace those with what it promises would be higher quality wetlands. The company has also committed to working with the county on a water improvement project at the Duette Preserve.

“This is a temporary impact,” said Bart Arrington, Mosaic’s permitting manager. “We put it back better than we find.”

John Henslick, a Winding Creek subdivision resident about a mile from the mine, said the noise and light are already intolerable.

“A lot of us moved out east to enjoy the country and the evening sky,” he said. “But at night, looking at the Mosaic property is like looking at St. Pete.”

Compton and Sierra Club member Sandra Ripberger had concerns over how the mining threatens fish and wildlife that rely on the Wingate and Johnson creeks, which feed to the Myakka River.

Though Mosaic assured that dams follow rigid quality standards, Compton said habitats could be destroyed if the mine’s holding ponds were to fail and release toxic waters.

“We are one hurricane away from finding that out,” he said.