Corps Of Engineers Seeks Public Comment On Okefenokee Mining

Jul 16, 2019

A company from Alabama wants to mine for heavy minerals in South Georgia, near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The Army Corps of Engineers is taking comment from the public now. GPB host Rickey Bevington spoke with reporter Emily Jones about the proposal.

Twin Pines Minerals has submitted a permit application, 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.

Environmental groups have raised concerns about the proposal. They point to possible runoff from mining activity into local waterways and potential impacts to underground waterflow.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman also questioned the effectiveness of replanting measures such as Twin Pines has proposed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comment on the proposal until August 13, 30 days from the permit application date.

Spokesman Billy Birdwell stressed that the Corps is seeking new information to inform the permit review process. Public comments, he said, are not a referendum that measures public sentiment.

"Their purpose is to give us information that we don't have or that the public deems that we really need to consider before we make our decision," said Birdwell. "And it may lead to something that requires more study. So that's why we have these public comment periods, and we encourage people to get involved."

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