After postponing its original meeting, Mosaic Co. will have the floor as it makes its case to the Manatee County commission for expanding mining operations at its Wingate East site on Jan. 26.
The company already received the first stamp of approval to dig 3,700 acres within its 11,000-acre Wingate mine property from the planning commission in August.
But before company officials make it up to the lectern, protestors against mining want to have a say.
Organizers with Stand Up Fight Back SRQ and ANSWER Suncoast are planning a peaceful protest Saturday outside of the county administration building, located at 1112 Manatee Ave. W., to spread awareness about the proposed expansion.
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“You know, when you drive by (mining facilities), you don’t notice it,” said Mark Manning, an organizer with Stand Up Fight Back SRQ. “But when you see it from the air, you see how devastating it is.”
In August, a sinkhole opened up underneath a phosphogypsum stack, leaking 215 million gallons of acidic wastewater into the Floridan aquifer.
Photos taken from a helicopter of the sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales processing facility in Mulberry are particularly jarring — a gaping drain in the middle of scarred land.
Dragline mining, the most popular method of phosphate mining, scrapes and excavates the land for phosphate rock, which is processed into fertilizer.
“For a county commissioner to give a second thought to prioritizing money over constituents, the residents, is preposterous,” Manning said.
The organizers also referenced concern over Mosaic’s permitted use of 69 million gallons of water every day for its eight mining and processing facilities, as well as mining’s threat to ecosystems and wildlife.
Juliana Musheyev, an organizer with ANSWER Suncoast, said the organization would also be putting together a call-in day on Jan. 23 for people to call and email county commissioners, asking them to vote “no” on the proposal.
“We really want to blow the door open on Mosaic,” Musheyev said.
Manning and Musheyev added they would be inviting people to attend the county commission meeting on Jan. 26.
“The protest is important. The meeting is vital,” Manning said.
If you go
What: Protest against Mosaic Company expanding mining in Manatee County
Where: Manatee County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.
When: Saturday, Jan. 14, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.