Florida Phosphate Operations
An Overview of the Pre-mining Permitting Process
The governmental permitting process applies to new phosphate mines and to the extension or expansion of existing, approved phosphate mining operations. The most recent new phosphate mine to be successfully permitted in Florida opened in 1995. In 2010, the permitting efforts were completed for the extension of an existing phosphate mine, e.g. the South Ft. Meade – Hardee County Extension, a regulatory process that spanned almost seven years.
Extended mines and new mining operations undergo exhaustive planning and approval processes to protect water, air, ecology, transportation, safety and other environmental, health and public welfare considerations. Examples of such permits are included below.
Water use permits are issued by Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and apply broad requirements to all of Mosaic’s operations. These permits are much more complex than a standard well permit and place well-defined restrictions and requirements on Mosaic’s water use. Those restrictions and requirements pertain to many issues including quantity and quality, maintaining off-site ground water levels and water conservation.
Rainfall on mine property must be collected and can only be discharged back into the watershed from permitted discharge points called outfalls. To safeguard the surrounding streams and ecosystems, these outfalls are monitored for water quality parameters including turbidity and nutrients to ensure that the water released from the mine meets or exceeds state water quality standards. These permits are issued through a program administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) with oversight by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Air Quality Permits
Local counties regulate dust levels for mining operations through their comprehensive plans and ordinances. Certain beneficiation processes require an air permit for unloading specific processing materials. Air permits are issued through a program administered by the FDEP with oversight by the U.S. EPA.
Land and Wildlife Management
Mosaic works with multiple parties, including counties, FDEP and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to evaluate ecological resource preservation opportunities. Such preservation areas include floodplains, as well as high-quality wetland or upland habitats and buffers. Mosaic’s current pending permit applications for new mines or large extensions reflect avoidance of high quality wetland and water resources, minimization of potential effects of our mining operations on those resources, and mitigation of those impacts that are unavoidable despite having been minimized to the maximum extent feasible. The compensatory mitigation plans included in the permit applications for our proposed new mining projects also include one or more projects that provide regional ecological value. Those “Regionally Ecologically Significant” projects, involve large parcels of property in the same watershed as the proposed mining activity, and typically include riverine systems and/or adjacent wetlands, providing restoration and permanent preservation through conservation easements.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) establish requirements applicable to our mining operations to avoid and minimize any harm to state and federally protected wildlife species found on mine properties. In cooperation with FWC, Mosaic has pioneered science for moving several listed species to more suitable habitat, including the Florida scrub jay and burrowing owls.
Prior to mining, Mosaic engages in an interactive dialogue with stakeholders, including local communities, NGOs and interest groups, through means such as our internet site and community microsites, community advisory panels, town halls, and open houses. Community relations managers communicate potential impacts from our operations to community associations and work with our land management offices to address community concerns.