The Army Corps of Engineers is extending the deadline for public comments on a proposal to mine for minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
The new deadline is Sept. 12, an additional 30 days from the original deadline of Aug. 13.
Environmental groups were calling for the deadline extension.
Chip Campbell runs boat tours and rentals at the refuge and is on the board of St. Mary's Riverkeeper. He said groups like his need more time to study the effects on water.
"There's what happens right there at the surface mine, but there's also what are we dealing with in terms of the volume pumped up from the bottom, pumped up from deeper down," he said. "That's where some of the greatest uncertainties come in."
Campbell says the mining company, Twin Pines Minerals, has promised scientific reports that could answer some of those questions.
The company is hosting two public meetings next month, on Aug. 13 in Folkston and Aug. 14 in St. Mary's.
Twin Pines is seeking permission to mine for heavy minerals in a 2,414-acre area. That would be phase one of the mining. The total proposed area is about 12,000 acres.
The company plans to mine in phases, according to the application, to an average of 50 feet below the land surface. The application proposes to backfill mined areas within 30 days, and replant during the appropriate planting season.
The company estimates 65 acres of wetland and 4,658 linear feet of tributaries will be permanently impacted if the project goes forward.
Comments can be submitted in writing or by email to the addresses below and should refer to the applicant's name and application number.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, 1104 North Westover Boulevard Suite 9, Albany, GA 31707 or firstname.lastname@example.org