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Mosaic proposes mining expansion

By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published June 22, 2007


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One of the world's largest fertilizer companies plans to add more than 1, 500 acres to its mining operations in southeastern Hillsborough County.

The Mosaic Co. wants to add several parcels south of State Road 674 and west of County Road 39 to its 300, 000-acre Florida empire.

The agricultural land borders the company's existing phosphate mining areas. Company officials say expanding there makes sense, environmentally and financially.

But some neighbors worry that an expansion would disrupt neighborhoods and endanger wildlife.

At a community meeting this week, Mosaic officials presented their plans to nearby property owners. County officials will consider the company's proposal at a hearing in July.

Lisa Lannon, a permitting official with Mosaic, said the company hopes to start mining phosphate rock on the property in 2012. Before that, she said, crews would prepare the site by building a large berm to enclose the property and protect groundwater.

Mosaic is also proposing an expansion on several smaller properties in southeastern Hillsborough County that are surrounded by existing Mosaic mining, Lannon said.

She asked the audience of more than 50 people to hold their questions.

"It would be much easier for you to ask us one on one, " she said.

After the presentation, company representatives stood beside maps placed around the room and fielded questions.

Some residents used rulers to measure the distance between their property and the phosphate mining. Others discussed their plans to oppose the zoning change Mosaic needs to mine on the property.

"I wanted to stand up there and talk to everybody, but they did not leave me that opportunity, " said Mary DiPaolo, 56.

DiPaolo said she has started a petition opposing Mosaic's plans.

Ed Shafii, 70, who owns citrus groves near Mosaic's property, said the county should restrict mine expansions.

"The farmland is going to be ruined and destroyed, " he said. "It's going to be unfair to the land and to nature."

In order to mine on much of the proposed property, Mosaic must get approval from the county to rezone the land.

Hillsborough phosphate and zoning officials are scheduled to consider Mosaic's request July 23. Before the hearing, the company must finalize contracts to purchase or lease the property, Mosaic spokesman David Townsend said.

But that meeting could be rescheduled, Mosaic officials said.

The County Commission will have the final say.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 813 661-2454.

[Last modified June 21, 2007, 08:07:10]


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