Landscape Changed Forever
See the dark green strip of trees? It's called a "no mine" area. It's protected from strip mining. But when water flows on both sides have been disrupted from strip mining, it's hard to believe that the "no mine" area can get the water it needs. See the dark green strip of trees? It's called a "no mine" area. It's protected from strip mining. But when water flows on both sides have been disrupted from strip mining, it's hard to believe that the "no mine" area can get the water it needs.
When land is turned upside-down, it cannot be made right. During the strip mining process, what began as a functioning natural system is randomly dumped into piles of earth. It costs more to preserve and separate the earth into usable reclamation material. Because they answer to shareholders, phosphate companies want to spend as little as possible on reclamation so nutrient-rich soils are replaced by materials that may never again support plant growth. Only preservation areas–a fraction of the total acreage–remain as they were. There are processes that would be less damaging to the landscape, but the mining companies refuse to cut into profits to support environmental recovery.
Anyone can look at the sparse vegetation on reclaimed lands and see that something isn't right. When they finish mining, the companies rarely replace the surface soils, streams or wetlands to their pre-mined conditions. As a result, in some places water seeps through the ground too quickly, without a chance to filter impurities. Strip mining severs normal water flow disrupting the entire ecosystem. In the process, the chemistry of the soil is changed. Topsoil at most reclaimed sites are nutrient poor and do not support the diversity of the microorganisms, vegetation or conditions necessary for native plant communities to return.
If the mining and reclamation at Ona proceed as planned by Mosaic and as approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, little will remain of the rich soil. If the ecosystem function returns, it will not happen in our lifetime or that of our children, or grandchildren or their grandchildren. Recovery will be measured in geologic time and that is not a “temporary impact” like Mosaic claims.