The hearing for the Mosaic Company’s request to rezone 3,569 acres of its Wingate East property to expand its phosphate mining operations will be stretched into its third day Wednesday.
The special land use meeting, which had started Jan. 26, will begin at 9 a.m. in the county commission chambers.
Mosaic, a phosphate mining and processing company, is seeking to approve its Master Mining Plan that includes approving setback waivers and special permission to mine in the Peace River Watershed Protection Overlay District.
The Wingate East mine proposal sits on the border of Manatee and Hardee counties and would be connected to the existing Wingate Creek mine.
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Just ahead of the meeting date, a local anti-mining group Coalition to Stop Phosphate Mining held a press conference outside of the county administration building to expose data which they said showed evidence that Mosaic and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection knew about a precursor to the New Wales sinkhole that formed underneath a phosphogypsum stack a year before it happened.
The state and mining company struck back, saying that the data of a 40-foot water level rise in the upper confining unit below the surface was from a phosphogypsum stack north of where the sinkhole formed and they concluded the two events were unrelated.
Most of the public comment from the meeting, which was a main factor in why it’s been so drawn out, has been against Mosaic.
While factors like destroying species habitat and lowering water quality were brought up, many were concerned that the sinkhole incident would happen in Manatee.
Mosaic said that the county is less likely to have sinkholes because there is a thick confining layer above the Floridan aquifer and that Manatee would not have any phosphogypsum stacks. The material mined from Manatee would be transported nearly 50 miles away to be processed at the New Wales facility in Mulberry.