PCS Phosphate of Aurora moved closer to getting the go-ahead to expand its mining of phosphate ore along the Pamlico River, even though the mining would cause massive damage to wetlands and creeks feeding the waterway.
A revised state permit, issued Thursday by water-quality regulators, allows the company to mine about 11,000 acres adjacent to its current open-pit mine in Beaufort County over 35 years.
The impacts to 4.8 miles of streams and more than 3,900 acres of wetlands represent the largest destruction of wetlands ever permitted in North Carolina, though regulators scaled back the original plan. Under federal law, the mining company must restore up to two acres of wetland for each acre destroyed, and it must in future decades reclaim the mined area.
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