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Strip Mining Will Cause Net Loss for County

Published By: Herald Advocate

Economist Richard Weisskoff, Professor of Economics at University of Miami, has concluded that there will be no net economic gain to Hardee County from the proposed S. Ft. Meade Mine extension. In fact, strip mining agricultural acreage will result in a loss of 61 jobs and a loss of almost $8 million toHardee County economy every year over the life of the mine and beyond. Dr. Weisskoff arrived at these conclusions after scouring the Mosaic DRI economic projections relative to the South Ft. Meade Mine/Hardee County permit application, and considering testimony of their experts at the April 28 Hearing,

Dr. Weisskoff immediately noticed that the economists, who prepared Mosaic economic projections (Lampl Herbert Consultants), based their job calculations on public data downloaded from the internet, not on actual Mosaic financial information – which was never revealed by Mosaic for proprietary reasons. The report reads “Mosaic was unable to provide forecasts of the value and cost of production from the Hardee County extension of the South Fort Meade Mine because of corporate concerns that the release of such financial data, which is not otherwise generally available to the public, could violate the Sarbanes-Oxley Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002.” In other words for the purposes of a study to support their application Mosaic would not reveal their own figures.

The Lampl Herbert study predicts creation of 180 new jobs at the height of the mine. It was only revealed at the public hearing that since there is no beneficiation with the mine expansion and there will be no creation of new jobs. The 90 jobs associated with the mine expansion are the same as the number of jobs for the existing S. Ft. Meade Mine.

A previous economic study (Hazen and Sawyer, 2003) prepared for Hardee County for the Ona Mine calculated the economic benefits of strip mining both with and without beneficiation. The conclusion of the study reads: “If the phosphate matrix is beneficiated in another county, thenHardee County residents can expect to see a negative present value change in net income and ad valorem tax revenues over the 50-year study period. On average, there will be about 100 fewer jobs in the county each year than would exist without mining on the Ona Property.”

Neither economic report thoroughly calculated the loss of jobs on income, employment and tax effects if the land were left in citrus, vegetable, and cattle production. Dr. Weisskoff determined the number of agricultural jobs per acre based on the maintenance, harvesting and planting of crops and groves, and found that the 2000 acres of citrus and vegetable production plus 6000 in pasture land of the proposed mine provides jobs directly to 60 workers and indirectly generates another 60 jobs. After reclamation the county will experience a net loss of about 90 jobs. In federal, state, and local tax revenues the county will lose of almost a million dollars per year as result of the mining.

The S. Ft. Meade Mine/Hardee County has been on the inside track for many years. Mosaic has been “working with” Hardee County staff to develop a mine permit that outwardly paints a rosy picture and is expected to sail by our commissioners without so much as raising an eyebrow, but in fact major elements of the mine permit defy our comp plan, our mining ordinance, and will have a negative effect on the economy of our county in the long run.

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