MANATEE -- Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC would be able to mine more of its property at its Wingate Creek Mine under a recommendation OK'd Thursday by the Manatee County Planning Commission.
The commission unanimously approved an ordinance amending a development order that codifies existing approvals for the east Manatee project, with the changes designed partly for "administrative convenience," according to county documents.
Among other things, the company would be able to mine its clay settling area, along with other unmined areas on its property, documents said.
The changes would affect 557 acres, including stockpile areas, a clay settling area, and 15.4 acres of technically undisturbed -- but hardly pristine -- land, officials said.
Mosaic's Bart Arrington described how a previous owner had left the 3,028-acre mine "frankly, a mess," where no mining had taken place since 1999.
His company had harbored a "great amount of concern" over its ability to reclaim the site in the future, he told the board meeting at County Administrative Center.
But since then, the company has done the reclamation required, and what it needed now was substantial deviations in the regulatory framework governing its operation, he said.
The amendment to the development order would extend by nine years the company's build-out date, or the life of the mine, to 2023; its land reclamation deadline would be extended nine years to 2027, said Rob Brown, a division manager for the county's Natural Re
A team of county officials had negotiated terms with the company based on legal middle ground, said Deputy County Attorney Bill Clague.
"We've been able to avoid fighting over it," he said, adding that staff members overseeing phosphate mining were comfortable with the result.
The company wants to mine areas on its property formerly set aside for other uses, and is not seeking to mine new lands, Clague emphasized.
The rub was how to make sure such activities complied with county standards, which have gotten tougher over the years, he said, adding, "We've worked out an acceptable compromise."
The Manatee County Commission is slated to review the Planning Commission recommendation and make a final decision.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.