HPS II withdraws phosphate mining application from Bradford County, Florida 2023-01-19

After many years of massive opposition, HPS II Thursday withdrew its application for a phosphate mine “without the County taking any formal action on it.”

[Letter, Map]
Letter, Map

Union County, where HPS II also wanted to mine, rejected its application there, changed the Union County Comprehensive Plan to limit mining, and, with the assistance of Alachua County, maintained legal defense against the mine, until HPS II dropped its lawsuit last June.

So it seems safe to finally say the HPS II phosphate mine is dead.

Congratulations to all the opponents, especially Bradford Environmental Forum, Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Sierra Club, and Our Santa Fe River (OSFR).

Suwannee Riverkeeper has opposed this mine since 2017, because it drains ito the New River and the Santa Fe River in the Suwannee River Basin, above the Floridan Aquifer. Update 2023-01-24: Added detail. Our opposition has included attending demonstrations, speaking at County Commission meetings in Union and Bradford Counties, writing letters to those Commissions, organizing Southwings small plane overflights of the mine site with opposition members from Union County and OSFR, publishing photographs from such overflights, attending coordination meetings as far away as Tampa, and attending nationwide meetings against phosphate mining. See https://wwals.net/issues/phosphate-mining/. In December 2018, the first official action of the newly-formed Waterkeepers Florida was a a Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida.

HPS II withdrawing their rezoning application does raise questions about where phosphate miners will aim next. Columbia County, Florida, across the Suwannee River from the existing Nutrien phosphate mine in Hamilton County?

Or north across the state line into Echols County, Georgia, which contains some of the same phosphate deposits?

[Map: Nutrien Phosphate mine, Hamilton, Columbia, and Echols Counties in SRWT map]
Map: Nutrien Phosphate mine, Hamilton, Columbia, and Echols Counties in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Water Trail (SRWT)

And of course we have all those titanium mines to worry about, including a public comment period is open on the one proposed too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

WCJB Staff, WCJB, January 19, 2023, Phosphate mining company backs out of plan for mining operation in Bradford County,

BROOKER, Fla. (WCJB)—After a seven-year long battle, Bradford County is celebrating the backing out of a mining company’s plan to mine phosphate in the area.

The plan has been met with protests from residents of surrounding areas as the mining would have threatened the environment including water sources that feed into Florida springs.

One of the many groups that headed protests against the mine was the Bradford Environmental Forum.

“I think they finally realized they weren’t going to be able to mine in Union County and then they realized that they didn’t have a viable plan. According to the Florida Institute for Research on Phosphate Mining, they needed to do more testing of their new-fangled method of mining phosphate.”

Carol Mosley, Bradford Environmental Forum co-founder Mosley hopes the county and state will develop ecological sites in Bradford, one such site mentioned was Brooks Sink, which is a sinkhole much like Devil’s Millhopper.

Congratulations to Carol Mosley and everyone else who opposed that mine!

The withdrawal letter

Here is the text of the withdrawal letter:

[HPS II attorney withdraws phosphate mining application 2023-01-19]
HPS II attorney withdraws phosphate mining application 2023-01-19

Attorneys at Law

January 19, 2023

Sent by Email

Mr. Randy Andrews
Zoning Director
Bradford County, Florida

Re: HPS Enterprises Il, LLC — Application for Special Use Permit for Bradford Mine Mining Master Plan submitted April 27, 2016 (“Application”)

Dear Randy:

As you know, I am legal counsel to HPS Enterprises II, LLC (“HPS”). On behalf of HPS, this letter is to confirm that HPS wishes to withdraw the above-referenced Application without the County taking any formal action on it. HPS therefore respectfully requests that the Board of County Commissioners consider the Application withdrawn, effective immediately.

Please let me know if the County needs anything else from HPS.

Very truly yours,
/s/Jim Taylor
James J. Taylor Jr.

For background, see:

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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