Manatee County Commission to decide on phosphate company operating permits

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 27, 2014 

MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners set a special meeting Thursday to consider whether to renew operating permits for three phosphate mines in East Manatee.

The three mines -- Southeast Tract, Four Corners and the Altman Tract -- are working mines operated by Mosaic Fertilizer LLC.

Company officials want to renew five-year mine-operating permits, which govern all mining activities.

"They're five-year permits, and what they do is take the big master mining plan, and break it up into increments, and that's what we get every five years," said Bart Arrington, Mosaic manager of mine permitting.

Operating permits provide a check for county officials to make sure applicants do what they're supposed to do, said Arrington.

The company is requesting approval since it has already conformed with all permits -- state, federal and local, Arrington said.

The Southeast Tract totals 2,611 acres; Four Corners, 11,715; and the Altman Tract, 2,048, according to county documents.

Wetlands impacts listed for the three phosphate mines include none for the Southeast Tract, 36 acres for Four Corners and 397 acres for the Altman Tract, county documents said.

Glenn Compton, director of the environmental group ManaSota-88, said the number of permits moving forward in Manatee County is "astounding," and added, "Right now, it's difficult to believe the county staff has had adequate time to review these permits."

Commissioners should question the number of permits requested by Mosaic, and whether or not it's in the county's best interest to allow its mining operation to move forward, Compton said.

Several hundred people work at the three mines in the eastern part of the county, said Arrington.

Asked whether they had spent time perusing phosphate company documents, Manatee County commissioners Michael Gallen and Vanessa Baugh Thursday said county staff members briefed them last week in preparation for the hearing.

The public hearing is slated for 9 a.m. Thursday at County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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