Proposed legislation that would have ended the possibility of mining near the Okefenokee National Nature Preserve is no longer being considered.
House Bill 1289, the Okefenokee Protection Act, would have prevented the state’s Environmental Protection Division from issuing, amending or renewing surface mining permits on Trial Ridge for any application submitted or reviewed after July 1st.
Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals’ application for a mining license on a 577-acre tract near the southeastern border of Okefenokee National Nature Reserve has drawn opposition from environmental groups who concerned about the potential impacts of mining near the famous world reserve. swamp.
State Rep. Lynn Smith, chair of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, said the bill was premature since the state’s Environmental Protection Division is still reviewing permit applications. . Permits submitted by Twin Pines to MNR include a Surface Mining Application, a Mine Use Plan, a Groundwater Withdrawal Application, and a Soil Reduction Plan. The mining proposal has drawn opposition from scientists concerned that mining near the marsh could have an irreversible impact on water levels.
Heavy minerals, including titanium, are mined by digging a pit, sieving the minerals from the sandy soil, and backfilling the pit with the sifted soil as crews dig through the mine site.
Scientists believe that the stratified layers of soil are what hold water in the basin-like swamp. Infilling the mixed layers could allow water to escape from the marsh, lowering water levels, they say.
Steven Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, said in an email Monday that efforts to secure a mining permit near the swamp were continuing.
“Our position remains the same,” he said. “We are awaiting decisions from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division on our permit applications. We continue to follow their lead and look forward to moving forward with our demonstration project at the appropriate time and proving that our technologically advanced dragline mining methods will protect the Okefenokee.
Josh Marks, an environmental attorney who was involved in DuPont’s failed attempt to mine near the Okefenokee in the 1990s, expressed concerns Monday about state EPD officials evaluating the proposal of mining.
“Because the EPD is unable to manage the Twin Pines Permit, and because experts say mining on Trail Ridge will lower the water level of the marsh, the Legislature must step back and ban mining. and Trail Ridge and permanently protect Okefenokee and the tourism economy it supports once and for all,” he said.