Permitting a phosphate mine in Florida is a long and complex process—and one that is often misunderstood. A common misperception is that a permit is simply obtained by filling out and submitting a form. The process is actually much more involved than that. Years of data are collected on a site before an application is ever submitted. Once the application is finally submitted, it takes an average of five to seven years to move through the entire permitting cycle.
Phosphate mining is regulated at the county, state and federal levels and requires permits and review from agencies at each layer of government. Each level of government has differing regulations and priorities. It is Mosaic’s responsibility to develop a project that reconciles and accounts for those different priorities and requirements.
In addition to these primary regulatory agencies, a variety of state and federal agencies become involved in the process, depending on the characteristics of the land to be mined. For instance, if there is potential for endangered species on the site, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service require a separate permit or a direct consultation in the state or federal permitting process.
While permitting at the State level is conducted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the process receives input from many other regulatory entities. The Florida Division of Historical Resources (a division of the Florida Department of State) reviews permit applications to determine if the land in question has any historical or archaeological significance.
At each level, the permitting processes are publicly noticed to allow input and comment from members of the public. In an effort to increase the public’s understanding and awareness of Mosaic’s mining initiatives, we hold community meetings throughout the permitting process and work with residents and organizations countywide to build a better understanding of our projects through public education and outreach efforts.
After all this extensive process, all permits are subject to legal challenges. In recent years, mining activities in the U.S. have seen a dramatic increase in legal challenges.