We are keeping close tabs on the progress of a possible mining operation near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp that could affect the St. Marys River. Boone’s Creek, a tributary that runs through the possible mining site along the swamp’s Trail Ridge, is regularly tested for contaminants, setting important baseline measurements. The Alabama-based company Twin Pines Minerals is waiting for state permits to be approved before beginning operations. Click here for the latest from the Environmental Protection Division.
A new federal regulation called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule went into effect June 22, 2020. The rule changed the way wetlands are defined in the Clean Water Act so that federal permits and environmental impact statements will no longer be needed before building near certain waterways.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ruled that because of this change, it lacked jurisdiction over 376 acres of land within the proposed mining site, so Twin Pines can proceed if the Georgia Environmental Protection Division approves five permits.
Parts of the refuge’s Trail Ridge are rich in titanium and other heavy minerals. In the past, attempts to mine there have failed due to concerns about the Okefenokee. Titanium is a strong, lightweight mineral used to build everything from missiles and jet planes to orthopedics and consumer electronics. The Georgia mine will use the titanium to make pigments that whiten cosmetics, paint and other consumer products.