Richard Atwood is general manager of PCS Phosphate.
Company understands environmental responsibility
PCS Phosphate must be allowed to continue mining our phosphate reserve in an economically viable fashion.
For over seven years, PCS Phosphate has been focused on acquiring the permits required to ensure the continued operation of the Aurora facility’s mining operations. We have attended countless meetings with regulatory and community organizations, and spent millions on research, reports, exploration and development activities. In addition, we have already initiated wetland mitigation projects in anticipation of future permit approval. All the while, PCS Phosphate has continued to be a good corporate citizen, providing funding and personal involvement of our employees in numerous nonprofit organizations and community events.
000200000435000004FC42F,The phosphate mined at PCS is an important natural resource used in food products, feed supplements and industrial applications. This nonrenewable resource is a crucial nutrient for sustaining plant and animal growth. Throughout the world, food systems and people rely on phosphate and our ability to manage this resource in a sustainable manner. To date, no other nutrient source has been developed or discovered that can take the place of phosphorous.
Wetlands act as natural filtration systems that can remove nutrients and pollutants from the water. Unfortunately, the phosphate that civilization depends on is more predominately found in wetlands and marine environments as noted by Heinz J. Mueller, chief of the NEPA program office at EPA. He states “EPA recognizes that extracting phosphate ores has substantial environmental impacts. Phosphate ores in the southeastern U.S. are often found in association with low-lying wetland areas, indicative perhaps of the littoral marine origins of phosphate, and are often co-located in areas of high ecological value.”
0002000005F60000092B5F0,As a company, we clearly understand our impact on the environment and our responsibility to be good stewards of these resources; this is why we spend millions of dollars on environmental initiatives. We strive to benefit both mankind and the environment by providing an essential plant and animal nutrient, mitigating for mining impacts, and reclaiming mined land to provide functional wildlife habitat. Our efforts in the environmental arena are proven and we have received numerous state and national awards. PCS Phosphate has worked diligently to successfully restore and replace wetlands. We replace and restore more wetlands than are impacted by our operations.
Opponents of the mine continuation permit have stated that the Corps, EPA and other agencies should be encouraged to take the time needed to develop and approve a viable solution. How much time is required? The Corps has worked meticulously alongside PCS Phosphate, EPA and other regulatory agencies to develop a plan that is not only permitable but also practicable. This is a fine balance being carefully reviewed and addressed by involved parties.
We are now at a crucial crossroad. In order to complete development activities for a safe and orderly mine advance, we must have a mine continuation permit by the end of the first quarter of 2008. PCS Phosphate has provided the necessary documents to expedite the process. It is now imperative that the permit be issued in a timely manner to prevent significant negative impacts to our operations.