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State suspending permit applications for titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp
The sun sets over water lilies and cypress trees along the remote Red Trail wilderness water trail of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in Fargo, Ga. The refuge is one of the world's largest intact freshwater ecosystems and av
The sun sets over water lilies and cypress trees along the remote Red Trail wilderness water trail of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in Fargo, Ga. The refuge is one of the world's largest intact freshwater ecosystems and averages 300,000 visitors a year and 4,000 visitors permitted for overnight camping along trails such as this. According to a government memo, Friday, June 3, 2022, a federal agency has delivered a big setback to a company's controversial plan to mine at the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp's vast wildlife refuge. - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA – The state has suspended consideration of permit requests for a proposed titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered Twin Pines Minerals to reapply for a federal permit.

In a memorandum issued a week ago, Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, wrote that the Alabama-based company had not properly consulted the Muscogee Creek Nation despite their request for such a consultation. The Okefenokee is culturally significant to the tribe.

Environmental groups that oppose the project say the mine in Charlton County would threaten the hydrology of the largest blackwater swamp in North America.

Twin Pines originally sought permits for a mine that, once excavated in phases, would have affected about 12,000 acres near the swamp. Later, the company revised its application to a smaller “demonstration mine” of nearly 900 acres.

The Army Corps declared back in 2020 that the mine didn’t need a federal permit because the wetlands at the proposed site of the project were excluded from federal regulation.

Following that determination, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) set up a process for Twin Pines to seek five state permits for the mine.

The state agency suspended consideration of those permits after the Army Corps reversed its earlier decision and decided to require Twin Pines to reapply for a federal permit.

“Given the Corps’ recent action, Georgia EPD is deferring action on all applications for [state permits],” The EPD wrote in a permitting update dated Tuesday.

“Following the conclusion of the federal process, EPD will assess what permits are required for the proposed demonstration mine and determine the best process for consideration of these permit applications moving forward.”

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