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Public expresses mostly opposition to Mosaic mine expansion

As a public hearing about Mosaic Fertilizer's plan to expand its phosphate mining operations in the Duette-Myakka area continued Monday, dozens of residents and environmentalists urged the Manatee County Commission to deny the project.

Mosaic - owner of the Four Corners Mine spanning Manatee, Hillsborough, Hardee and Polk counties, and the Wingate Creek Mine in Manatee - wants to rezone nearly 3,596 acres flanking Duette Road and known as its Wingate East property from agriculture to extraction, which will allow the mining of phosphate ore. Phosphate is an ingredient in fertilizer products.

On Thursday, the first day of the hearing, Mosaic executives and consultants testified that the proposed dredge and dragline mining at Wingate East will have "no significant impact" on the environment, that protected wildlife will be moved before mining and that natural habitat will be restored after mining.

Yet during the public comment portion of the hearing, which ended Monday, most speakers adamantly disagreed with Mosaic's claims.