Tag Archives: Twin Pines Minerals

More questions about strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp –GA-EPD to miners 2021-09-10

GA-EPD last Friday sent another request for clarifications to the miners about their proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Meanwhile, you can ask GA-EPD to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter]
Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter

Most of the new questions are about how bentonite clay will be used. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has actually been asking about that since December 5, 2019.

A question GA-EPD did not ask is what if the clay gets into waterways with fish? Bentonite in small particles can get into the gills of fish and suffocate them, and bentonite can also deplete oxygen: see Identification of Oxygen-Depleting Components in MX-80 Bentonite, Torbjörn Carlsson and Arto Muurine, Cambridge University Press, 01 February 2011.

GA-EPD also asked about water draining into the Floridan Aquifer or into rivers, or water moving in the other direction.

Exhibit I Modeling the GW Flow System Comments James L. Kennedy Ph.D., P.G.

Continue reading

Restore pre-2015 Waters of the U.S. –Waterkeeper Alliance to U.S. EPA 2021-09-03

Suwannee Riverkeeper signed on to this Waterkeeper Alliance request for EPA to protect both surface and groundwater.

It includes a mention of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) abdication of oversight over the proposed titanium strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

[Restore WOTUS, mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, groundwater recharge]
Restore WOTUS, mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, groundwater recharge

That USACE decision was based on the EPA and USACE 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) redefining jurisdictional “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). On August 30, a U.S. District Court vacated the NWPR. On September 3, Waterkeeper Alliance these lengthy comments on EPA’s WOTUS rulemaking.

Also on September 3, EPA announced that EPA and USACE have halted implementation of NWPR and will be applying the pre-2015 WOTUS definition, which was one of Waterkeeper letter’s requests.

Meanwhile, you can ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07]
Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07

Update 2021-09-11: This is what the Waterkeeper Alliance letter says about the Okefenokee Swamp and the threatening strip mine:

Additionally, Alabama-based mining company Twin Pines has proposed a heavy mineral sand strip mine between the St. Mary’s River and Okefenokee Swamp, one of the largest and most celebrated wetlands in the country, and home to both a National Wildlife Refuge and a National Wilderness Area.140 The proposed mine would be 50-feet deep on average and would destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands and streams that are critical to the St. Marys River and Okefenokee’s diverse ecosystems, threatening the hydrology of the swamp. Recently, the Corps determined that nearly 400 acres of previously jurisdictional wetlands near the Refuge are now unprotected by the Clean Water Act, allowing the mining company to begin mining without any involvement by the agency.141 For reasons that are unclear, the Corps did not discuss the streams at the site, which appear to be, but not are not being treated as, jurisdictional waters under the CWA.142 This decision has important implications for the initial part of the mine as well as the longer-term expansion of the mine to more than 8,000 acres near the Refuge.

140 St. Marys Riverkeeper and Suwannee Riverkeeper work to protect waters that are impacted by this decision.

141 Corps Approved Jurisdictional Determination, ORM Number: SAS-2018-00554 (Oct. 14, 2020) (Attachment 11).

142 National Wetlands Inventory Map of the Twin Pines Mine Site Area, available at: https://www fws.gov/wetlands/data/Mapper html (Attachment 12).

[Multiple Streams and Wetlands, including Wetlands Intersecting Streams]
Multiple Streams and Wetlands, including Wetlands Intersecting Streams
PDF

The entire Waterkeeper comment letter is on the WWALS website, along with its exhibits: Continue reading

A lot of titanium, but only one Okefenokee Swamp –U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock 2021-08-28

“We have a lot of titanium, but we only have one Okefenokee Swamp,” said U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, very early Saturday morning in Valdosta, Georgia.

[U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Gretchen Quarterman]
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Gretchen Quarterman

That’s WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman with the Senator.

You can ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to reject the five permit applications they got from the miners, or at least to thoroughly examine them, with independent third-party review.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

The Senator left with contact information for the Charlton County Commission. If you know any of them, you could talk to them, too.

Later that same morning, Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals supplied more documents to GA-EPD about mining near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-06-25

The miners finally responded to GA-EPD’s questions from April about more information for the five permit applications to strip mine titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Checking today with Georgia Environmental Protection Division Deputy Director John Eunice, it will probably take several weeks for EPD’s Mining group to review the documents. If EPD finds documents or information still missing, they may ask Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, for more. When at some point EPD finds enough information to call it a complete application, they will announce a Public Hearing with a public comment period.

You can go ahead and ask GA-EPD to reject the permit applications, or at least thoroughly evaluate them:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

The miners’ recent documents contain plenty of reasons to reject the permits, including they say themselves they didn’t answer all the questions, and they keep sending maps including land owned by TIAA as part of their mine site after TIAA rejected that many months ago.

[Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps]
Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps

I’d say the miners themselves said their responses were incomplete in items 5 and 6 on page 12 of their Response to Comments: Continue reading

SRWMD disclaims responsibility for new Chemours titanium mine near Starke

Much like the SRWMD Board listened to its attorneys and approved Nestlé Ginnie Springs water withdrawal near the Santa Fe River, SRWMD says it has no authority to stop the proposed new titanium mine Chemours wants near Starke, the fifth one in Florida, plus the two or three Chemours has in Georgia, plus the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, all on Trail Ridge, the north-south divide between the Suwannee River and St. Johns River Basins in Florida, and the dam that holds in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

The reporter has a good idea: SRWMD could charge Chemours for access through state property to its mine site.

Meanwhile, FDEP Mining and Mitigation has issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Environmental Resource Permit, which includes contact information for comments, and how you could file a request for a legal hearing.

You can also still ask Georgia officials to stop the other proposed mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp:
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC]
Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC

Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix, 20 May 2021, FL allowing mining of state-owned wetlands has a certain smell to it,

But the region also boasts a multitude of springs, lakes, creeks, and rivers, including the Santa Fe and the famous Suwannee, celebrated in our problematic state song. Overseeing these watery state assets is the Suwannee River Water Management District, which in 2015 spent $3.9 million to buy more than 2,000 acres of forest and swamp near Starke from the timber company Rayonier.

“It seemed like a good purchase,” Tom Mirti, the district’s deputy executive director, told me this week.

District officials figured they could use that land for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects, including creating a wildlife corridor for bears and other wide-ranging animals between the Ocala National Forest and the Osceola National Forest, he said.

There was just one problem: Rayonier kept the mineral rights to the property. Then the timber giant turned around and leased those mineral rights to Chemours. And there wasn’t a thing the water agency could say about it.

Continue reading

Chemours: new Florida mine, what about next to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia? 2021-04-23

On the same day the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) filed a notice of intent to issue a permit for a new titanium mine on Trail Ridge in Bradford County, Florida, the Sierra Club posted an action alert for people to ask what does Chemours intend to do about the Twin Pines Minerals mining application within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County, Georgia?

You can use the Sierra Club Action to ask Chemours to disavow any interest in that Twin Pines Minerals mine or site.
https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/Georgia?actionId=AR0326624

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp welcomed yet another Chemours mine to Georgia just last fall, yet the day before these two events he refused to state an opinion on the proposed mine next to the Okefenokee Swamp. You can ask him to speak up against it, by using the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert, which will send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and Georgia elected officials asking them to reject the permit applications for that site.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Map of mines on Trail Ridge, Twin Pines Minerals, Chemours]
Map of mines on Trail Ridge, Twin Pines Minerals, Chemours

The Twin Pines Minerals proposed mine site is in the middle right of this map, barely southeast of the Swamp, south of Chemours Mission Mine North and Mission Mine South in Georgia, and north of a string of Chemours mines in north Florida, with the new Chemours Trail Ridge South Mine indicated at the bottom end of that row.

Why would Chemours not be interested in a mine in the middle of Trail Ridge, where Twin Pines Minerals has said the mining is the most convenient? Continue reading

Alligator snapping turtle threatened status: another reason to protect the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-04-07

Let’s put the end of the story up top:

John Quarterman, who is the Suwannee Riverkeeper with the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., said he hopes potential new federal protections will highlight the need to shield part of the turtle’s potential habitat from a proposed mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp. The [Georgia] state Department of Natural Resource[s] is weighing whether to issue mining permits to Twin Pines [Minerals LLC of Alabama].

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is included in the turtle’s range outlined by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s yet another reason to protect the swamp,” Quarterman said this week.

Please send your comments to Georgia officials asking them to thoroughly review and then reject the five permit applications from the miners:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

Suwannee alligator snapping turtle
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) listed the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as State Threatened in September 2018.

Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder, 7 April 2021, Feds propose protection for hefty Suwannee alligator snapping turtle,

A rare prehistoric looking turtle only found in south Georgia and north Florida might soon gain federal protection after struggling to rebound.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it has proposed listing the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement kicks off a public comment period that will wrap up this June.

The turtle is the largest found in north American rivers, with some males weighing in at more than 200 pounds. The Suwannee gator snapper makes its home in the waterways flowing through Tifton and Valdosta before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal agency reported Tuesday that only about 2,000 of the turtles remain across the two states. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle was only recently split off as its own species.

“The science that the Service has gathered on this turtle indicates Continue reading

Okefenokee Swamp south drains west to Suwannee River

Most of the south end of the Okefenokee Swamp drains west into the Suwannee River.

This is one reason Suwannee Riverkeeper is so interested in stopping titanium strip mine proposed far too near the southeast corner of the Swamp by Twin Pines Minerals LLC of Alabama.

Please send your comments to Georgia officials asking them to thoroughly review and then reject the five permit applications from the miners:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

[WWALS map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin]
WWALS map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin

Highlighted on the left is the Little Swannee Creek Confluence with the Suwannee River, several miles downstream from Fargo. That creek connects with Breakfast Branch, which comes down out of the Swamp before crossing FL 2 (GA 94). Orange waterways are in the Suwannee River Basin, and red ones are in the St. Marys River Basin, according to USGS, but see below.

Next to the north is Cypress Creek, which has tributaries way out in the Swamp, and flows pretty much straight west, reaching the Suwannee River a couple of miles downstream of Fargo.

Upstream from Fargo, almost halfway to Griffis Fish Camp, is a creek for which USGS has no name. I’m calling it Strange Island Creek, because it comes west out of the Swamp past North Strange Island and Middle Strange Island. It has branches coming south down from Jack Island. Those islands show up Continue reading

Public Hearing: Biomass wastewater permit, Madison County, Georgia 2021-03-02

This public hearing for a wastewater permit far away from the Suwannee River Basin is of interest because apparently the instigator of this biomass plant is also the president of Twin Pines Minerals, which wants to strip mine for titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

When: 7 PM, Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Where: https://gaepd.zoom.us/j/96881364173

[Property Location]
Property Location


PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Application for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit to Discharge Treated Wastewater Into Waters of the State of Georgia.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has received a new NPDES permit application for the issuance of a new NPDES permit. Having reviewed such application, the Environmental Protection Division proposes to issue for a maximum term of five years the following permit subject to specific pollutant limitations and special conditions:

GRP Madison Renewable Energy Facility, LLC, P.O. Box 909, Colbert, Georgia 30628, NPDES Permit No. GA0050283, for its steam electric facility located at 268 Office Drive, Colbert, Georgia 30628. A maximum of 3.55 MGD treated boiler blowdown, boiler feedwater, boiler area drains, reverse osmosis reject water, STG sump area drains, cooling tower blowdown, and stormwater is discharged to an unnamed tributary to Beaverdam Creek in the Savannah River Basin.

EPD will host a public hearing via Zoom software at 7:00 p.m. on March 2, 2021. Zoom is a free web conferencing platform that also allows participation by phone. In accordance with EPD’s safety precautions regarding the COVID-19 virus, EPD encourages members of the public to participate in the public hearing via Zoom. The purpose of the public hearing is to receive comments on the draft NPDES permit for GRP Madison Renewable Energy Facility, LLC.

To log into the public hearing on your computer, please click this link or copy and paste it into your browser to join the meeting: https://gaepd.zoom.us/j/96881364173

To ensure that you are ready to participate when the meeting begins, we recommend that you download Zoom in advance. Zoom can be found here: https://zoom.us/

To dial in by phone, please call this number: 1-470-381-2552

The meeting ID is 968 8136 4173

The passcode is 572750

Please note that if you choose to participate by phone, your number may be visible to other meeting attendees.

The public hearing is a formal process to Continue reading

Okefenokee Flyover 2021-01-10

Yes, Twin Pines Minerals still has mining equipment on its site near GA 94, only a few miles from the Okefenokee Swamp. And yes, the land TPM owns still extends northwest to within a few hundred feet of the Swamp and a few thousand feet of the National Wildlife Refuge. Here are some context aerials, showing proximity to the Swamp, Moniac, St. George, and the Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds.

[Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds]
Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds

You can help stop that strip mine for paint, by contacting the Georgia governor and other elected officials; see below for how.

Here’s a closeup of the current mine staging site: Continue reading