On February 9, 2024, Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) issued DRAFT air, water and surface mining permits to Twin Pines Minerals, LLC to operate an 820-acre mine within three miles of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and five miles to the St. Marys River. Citizens concerned about the future of our St. Marys River and Okefenokee Swamp have until April 9 (60 days) to voice their belief that this mine will harm our blackwater systems and that these permits should not be issued. EPD is also hosting a virtual public hearing on March 5 at 6:00p.
Written public comments can be submitted to email@example.com.
The permits can be reviewed HERE.
In April 2023, St. Marys Riverkeeper hosted 5 EPD representatives to discuss impacts on the St. Marys River by taking them on a tour of the upper river by vehicle and by boat. We are currently working with them to study the endangered Atlantic Sturgeon in the river along with our partners from NOAA Fisheries and US Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read EPD’s memos regarding additional assessment of potential impacts from mining operation on the St. Marys River HERE.
St. Marys Riverkeeper joined over 78,000 concerned citizens and groups in opposing Twin Pines Minerals’ Mining Land Use Plan (MLUP) when it was opened up for a 60-day public comment period in early 2023. Many of our comments were included in the updated MLUP although some of our questions have gone unanswered.
Twin Pines Minerals is an Alabama-based company looking to mine along Trail Ridge, at the headwaters for River Styx (flows to the Okefenokee Swamp) and Boone Creek (flows to the St. Marys River). Mining along Trail Ridge could compromise the habitat the Swamp and the St. Marys River offers to endangered species like the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Wood Storks, Eastern Indigo Snakes, and the Atlantic Sturgeon.
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.