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With Mining Near Okefenokee On Hold, Reactions Are Mixed

The proposed mining area, outlined in pink. Twin Pines Minerals said it would reduce the size of the proposal.
SAS-2018-00554 Twin Pines Minerals Standard Permit Application
The proposed mining area, outlined in pink. Twin Pines Minerals said it would reduce the size of the proposal.

The company seeking to mine for heavy minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has withdrawn its permit application. Twin Pines Minerals said it would resubmit a new plan to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

GPB reporter Emily Jones spoke with host Rickey Bevington about the latest developments in the controversial proposal.Twin Pines Minerals has withdrawn its application to mine near the Okefenokee, but the controversial proposal is far from over.

The permit application in question is for the first phase of a mine that would ultimately dig up about 12,000 acres near the Okefenokee to mine for titanium and other heavy minerals. It met with strong opposition, mostly over concerns it would adversely affect the protected and beloved swamp.

Twin Pines recently released a detailed report on what the mine would do to the water underground, prepared by a University of Mississippi scientist. It shows the impact would be "negligible."

Environmental groups said they were reviewing the report.

EARLIER: Mining Proposal Near Okefenokee Promises Jobs, Raises Environmental Concerns

But shortly afterward, Twin Pines withdrew the permit application. The company said it planned to submit an updated proposal, with a smaller footprint for the mine among other changes.

Such withdrawals are fairly routine.

Bill Sapp of the Southern Environmental Law Center said this case is different because Twin Pines met extensively with the Corps and with stakeholders before submitting the permit application.

"So at this point, their withdrawal sends a signal that they are not equipped to move forward with their application at this time," Sapp said.

SELC has come out against the mine. The group is also an underwriter of GPB.

In a statement, Twin Pines said they do plan to move forward "in an environmentally responsible way."

Until the company submits its amended application, the approval process is on hold.

Copyright 2020 Georgia Public Broadcasting

Emily Jones locally hosts Morning Edition and reports on all things coastal Georgia for GPB’s Savannah bureau. Before coming to GPB, she studied broadcast journalism at the Columbia Journalism School and urban history at Brown University. She’s worked for the Wall Street Journal Radio Network, WHYY in Philadelphia, and WBRU and RIPR in Providence.
As Senior Anchor/Correspondent, Rickey Bevington is a mainstay with Atlantans during the afternoon drive as local host for NPR's nationally syndicated "All Things Considered" weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.