Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 31, 2023


Ragan Whitlock, Center for Biological Diversity, (727) 426-3653,
Rachael Curran, People for Protecting Peace River, (727) 537-0802,

Mosaic Mining Workshops Fail to Stem Pollution Concerns

DeSoto County Residents Stuck in Limbo, Unsure of Future

ARCADIA, Fla.— The Mosaic Company, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, will complete its mining workshop series today before the DeSoto County Board of Commissioners. Mosaic wants to mine 18,000 acres in DeSoto County, but the company needs the commission to rezone the land to allow mining.

“I hope DeSoto County commissioners and residents recognize this workshop process for the meaningless dog and pony show that it is,” said Ragan Whitlock, a Florida-based attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Phosphate mines pose serious pollution concerns, and the commission made a legally sound decision to deny this mine in 2018. County residents deserve better than to be stuck indefinitely waiting on Mosaic to decide when to apply again.”

The workshops are part of a 2019 dispute settlement between the county and Mosaic, after county commissioners denied the rezoning in 2018. If the proposal had been approved, this would have been the first phosphate mine in DeSoto County.

Citing concerns about radon emissions, groundwater contamination, and biodiversity loss, citizens and conservation groups have overwhelmingly spoken against the strip-mining proposal. The workshop series concludes today, but DeSoto County residents are far from having closure when it comes to whether a phosphate mine will become their new neighbor.

The 2019 dispute settlement provided for the workshop series and the opportunity for Mosaic to bring its application back before the commission as early as 2023. But Mosaic recently informed the commission that it will not pursue its application until at least 2025. The settlement does not set a date by which the application must be heard, placing the fate of the county at the mercy of the Fortune 500 company.

“Nearly five years later, I am glad these unnecessary and propaganda-filled workshops coming after DeSoto County's 2018 denial of Mosaic's rezoning request to mine have finally come to an end,” said Rachael Curran, attorney for People for Protecting Peace River. “But I am still looking forward to the day the people and wildlife of this region no longer have the specter of a destructive mining project over their heads. For that to happen, commissioners must work to say ‘no’ to phosphate mining in their county once and for all, and to stick with that decision next time a corporate bully comes to town.”

Last week, Charlotte County Commissioners passed a resolution that asks DeSoto County to deny Mosaic’s rezoning request once again. The resolution also encourages neighboring counties and local governments to support DeSoto County’s denial.

DeSoto County is still reeling from the severe effects of Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Southwest Florida in late September 2022. The storm brought 20 inches of rainfall to DeSoto County and flooded as many as 2,000 homes and at least 100 RVs, authorities said. Since the disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian, DeSoto County has been allocated more than $26.5 million in federal funds towards recovery. A commission meeting was held directly before Mosaic’s final mining workshop to extend the local state of emergency as recovery efforts continue.

Phosphate strip mining has also been a contentious issue in north Florida, where Union and Bradford County residents recently heralded a mining company’s withdrawal of an application to mine 7,400 acres across the two counties.

Hurricane Ian flooding along I-70 and Horse Creek in DeSoto County, Fla. Credit: Ragan Whitlock. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

People for Protecting Peace River (3PR) seeks to educate the public and fight for the extraordinary natural and agricultural lands and waterways of interior Florida. The goal of 3PR is to stop the damage by phosphate strip mining and fertilizer production.

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