Florida Phosphate Operations
Extended mines and new mining operations undergo exhaustive planning and approval processes to protect air, water, ecology, transportation, safety and other environmental, health and public welfare considerations. After mining, state-approved reclamation programs will result in productive land uses, including enhanced wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.
How Phosphate is Recovered
Phosphate rock is usually found 15-50 feet beneath the ground in a mixture of phosphate pebbles, sand and clay known as phosphate "matrix." The sandy layer above the matrix, called the overburden, is removed using electrically operated draglines. Equipped with large buckets, these draglines remove the overburden, placing it in the previously mined voids, and excavate the matrix, depositing it into a shallow containment area or slurry pit. There, high-pressure water guns turn the material into a watery mixture called slurry, which is sent through pipelines to a processing facility, referred to as a beneficiation plant, where phosphate rock is physically separated from the sand and clay in the matrix.
At the plant, the slurry is moved through a series of washing stations and vibrating screens that physically separate clay, sand and pebble-sized particles. The separated phosphate pebbles are moved through dewatering tanks and onto an inventory pile via conveyor belt. The clay particles are then pumped through pipelines into storage ponds (clay settling areas) where these particles sink to the bottom. These ponds function as reservoirs and help Mosaic recycle or reuse 80-95 percent of the water at its phosphate facilities, while also supporting a variety of wildlife.
The smallest particles of sand and phosphate are further separated at a flotation plant. The sand is returned by pipeline to the mine area for use in land reclamation, while the phosphate concentrate is sent to dewatering tanks and then to the inventory pile. The phosphate minerals are then transported by fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly locomotives to a separate fertilizer manufacturing plant to make our finished products.
Water management during the mining process is an extremely important part our operations. To learn more, click here.