Mosaic’s request for DeSoto County commissioners to reconsider an earlier denial of the bulk of its mining plans won’t happen as soon as originally planned.
The fertilizer company announced last month that it will put off its request to rezone 14,000 acres (in addition to 9,000 acres already approved for mining) until at least 2025.
Officially, Mosaic said the reason for the delay was that the rock from DeSoto had been planned to be shipped to its Plant City plant, which is closed. But that plant closed permanently in 2019 after being temporarily closed in 2017 for economic reasons.
A more likely explanation may lie in local politics. Four county commission seats are up for election this year and the candidates’ standing on mining has become a major issue.
That debate involves the effects on local water and wildlife resources as a result of the alteration of 17 percent of the county’s area either through mining excavations or the construction of impoundments to store clay extracted during the initial processing work. This will combine to permanently change the county’s landscape.
Although Mosaic officials contend they will follow all state and federal regulations regarding protected wildlife species and water discharges into the Peace River and its tributaries, the claim has been met with skepticism because of the history of environmental damage caused by phosphate mining and fertilizer production.
Any effects on the Peace River is a key issue because the Peace River Manasota Water Supply Authority withdraws millions of gallons from the river south of Arcadia to supply water to customers in Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties.