22 February 2012 23:36 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US fertilizer maker Mosaic said on Wednesday that its South Fort Meade phosphate rock mine in Florida can reach full production within six weeks once the courts approve a settlement reached between the company and environmental groups.
Mosaic announced on Tuesday it had reached a settlement with the Sierra Club, Manasota-88 and People for Protecting the Peace River, who had challenged the company's mine expansion permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Once the settlement is approved by district court, which is expected to happen within 20 days, the 6.6m tonne/year South Fort Meade mine can resume operations in its permitted expansion, with full operation expected in about six weeks, Mosaic said.
The mine, which serviced three adjacent phosphate fertilizer plants, has been operating at 25-35% of capacity, forcing the company to buy rock in the international spot markets.
"Clearing this cloud at least brings back the supply certainty for rock and phosphate fertilizer supply and frees up additional rock capacity for other players," said investment analyst Charles Neivert of Dahlman Rose.
Mosaic said the Hardee County extension will allow 10 additional years of mining at the South Fort Meade mine.
In the settlement, Mosaic agreed to the preservation of about 130 acres (53 ha) of land otherwise eligible to be mined by Mosaic.
The company must also commit to certain mitigation, monitoring and site enhancements, as well as additional efforts to obtain permanent conservation easements along the Peace River.
Mosaic will also donate to the state of Florida a 4,171-acre horse ranch on the Peace River that it purchased in December for $10m (€7.5m).
The property, known as the Peaceful Horse Ranch, is intended to be used by Florida as a state park. Mosaic will provide up to $2m for the start-up and recurring expenses of the state park.
Mosaic stock closed Wednesday at $58.80/share on the New York Stock Exchange, up $1.89/share from the previous day.
($1 = €0.75)
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