N. Carolina mining plan would destroy vast wetlands area

A proposal to strip-mine for phosphate in more than 4,000 acres of wetlands near the Pamlico River in North Carolina was outlined Friday by the Army Corps of Engineers in an environmental impact statement.

If the plan is approved after a public comment period, it would result in the largest permitted wetlands destruction in the state's history.

PCS Ohosphate, the company seeking approval, wants to extract phosphate for the next 37 years from three separate tracts of land near its existing mine in Aurora. The mining operations would span more than 15,100 acres, including 4,135 acres of water and wetlands. The company expects to spend $4.76 billion over the decades-long expansion plan.

The last time the corps allowed a company to venture into such a large amount of wetlands was in 1997 when PCS Phosphate received certification to begin mining 1,263 acres of wetland on its current operations.

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